Friday, 22 November 2013


Those who value our NSW National Parks are relieved at the State Government’s rejection of a parliamentary inquiry's recommendation that more than one million hectares of the northern NSW National Parks estate be opened up to logging. 

Background to the Recommendation
 In 2012 General Purpose Standing Committee No 5,  a committee of the NSW Legislative Council (the state’s upper house), held an inquiry into the management of public lands in NSW. This Inquiry was at the instigation of the Shooters and Fishers Party (which has two members in the NSW Parliament) and Liberal/National Party members of the committee.  According to the Committee Chair, the Shooters and Fishers Party's Robert Brown, the inquiry was to "thoroughly review how public and private land is acquired and converted into conservation land, and the effectiveness of public land management practices dealing with fire hazards, weeds and pests, and issues such as public access and land use."
It was quite obvious that the inquiry was motivated by a desire to attack national parks and the reasons for their existence and  to question the decision-making process in the creation of national parks in the  previous decade or so.     
The Committee's Report  which is available on the Inquiry website  was published in May 2013 and the Government had until this month to respond to the report and its recommendations.
The Recommendation to Log National Parks

Recommendation 10 of the Report:

That the NSW Government immediately identify appropriate reserved areas for release to meet the levels of wood supply needed to sustain the timber industry, and that the NSW Government take priority action to release these areas, if necessary by a ‘tenure swap’ between national park estate and State forests. In particular, urgent action is required for the timber industry in the Pilliga region.
This recommendation was the result of the anti-environment and anti-National Parks stance of the  committee's conservative majority as well as the extensive lobbying by the NSW Forest Products Association (FPA).  The FPA used the Inquiry to publicise its concerns about the impending supply shortfall from the state’s public native forests in the north of the state.  This shortfall is the inevitable result of years of over-commitment of timber resources in our state forests by the state’s forest bureaucracy.

The NSW Government Response
In its official response on 19 November the NSW Government rejected the call for logging in National Parks.

The peak North Coast conservation body, the North Coast Environment Council (NCEC), welcomed the Government’s  decision.

 “There is little doubt that the Government has seen the support and love that National Parks enjoy from a wide spectrum of the community.  There has been overwhelming opposition to its decision to allow hunting in National Parks.  Logging was clearly a bridge too far,” said NCEC President Susie Russell.

While welcoming the decision, North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Dailan Pugh has called on the Government to reduce logging quotas to a sustainable level so that the hardwood sawlog industry has a future in our area.

“The Government must come clean with the public by releasing last year’s timber review and acting urgently to stop the gross over-logging of publicly owned lands,” Mr Pugh said.