FIACs vision – too blurry given state government blind spots

As expected, the coalition government’s Forest Industry Advisory Council has released its ‘visionary’ report titled ‘Transforming Australia’s Forest Products Industry‘. The Council recommends maintaining current access to native forests and greatly expanding plantation areas. However,  they advise ” . . . the industry needs to address poor community perceptions of the role that forest managers and industry play in protecting forest biodiversity through auditable forest planning systems . . ” .

In part to address the poor perceptions FIAC recommend a government funded ” . . . $300 million 10-year programme of mechanical fuel reduction as a bushfire mitigation measure for forest and community protection.”

In addition, given the uncertainty about whether plantations will grow at any given location. ” . . . Safeguards are needed to prevent plantation establishment on unsuitable sites. This could involve industry developing a technical review mechanism that examines site locations and species for their links to harvesting, transport and processing capacity; and an assessment of soil and rainfall suitability. Any reviews should be undertaken by qualified and registered forestry professionals.”

Speaking on local ABC radio, FIAC co-chair Rob de Fégely talked about developing forestry ‘hubs’ as part of the transformation. He went on to suggest the regional managers of Forestry Corporation and the NPWS, Mr Daniel Tuan and Mr Rob McKinnon fit the bill, because when it comes to trees, they know what they are talking about. (?!)

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Mr McKinnon is quite new to his job, since the previous chap was put out to pasture. In a press release earlier this year, Mr McKinnon spoke of planned burning across 22,000 hectares of National Park, suggesting it ‘will assist in reducing fuels and also have ecological benefits’.

Mr Tuan was given his job after the previous incumbent resigned, due to the illegal logging in Biamanga Aboriginal Place. What both regional managers share, given they are state government employees, is a belief that forest management does not need to protect and enhance biodiversity.

So it was interesting to read in the Eden Magnet, how FCNSW are now translocating endangered Southern Brown Bandicoots, to Booderee National Park. This follows the translocation of Long -nosed potoroos to Booderee, over the past two years.

According to FCNSW, due to its baiting program ” . . . There were now sufficient numbers of both bandicoots and potoroos around Eden to help boost populations elsewhere in the state.”
While this may be the case, Booderee NP is on commonwealth land and is run by the federal government, in a manner consistent with the National Forest Policy Statement. Hence the attempts to restore forest biodiversity.

The issue would seem to be whether FCNSW should be ensuring there are sufficient numbers of necessary species in the Eden region, as opposed to just around Eden, prior to packing them off else where.

Similarly, if the NPWS was seriously interested in enhancing biodiversity it would be putting its hand up to re-introduce locally extinct species. While this is clearly not the case, whatever else the NPWS do is not clear. For example, since taking over management of  the ‘flora reserves’ the NPWS  have not undertaken any fox baiting. All of the roads were in an appalling condition, but have not been maintained since the takeover and will be much worse after the current heavy rain ceases.

From this perspective, state government policy and practise has a great deal of room for improvement, forestry hub or not.

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