The latest in a series of meetings will be held in Grafton on Saturday June 30 to present the facts about what proposed changes to logging rules in North Coast state forests will mean for wildlife and biodiversity.
Conservation groups are holding these meetings following the State Government's failure to respond to public concerns beyond a bunch of 'motherhood' statements dispensed by local politicians, and the refusal by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to visit north coast forests to see first hand the irreparable damage that has resulted from 20 years of unbridled pillage.
The Regional Forests Agreements end in a few years, and because state forests across the region have suffered from serious over-logging to meet unrealistic wood supply contracts, the State Government is trying to push through radical changes to find more timber.
They claim these changes will not result in net changes to wood supply, or to erosion of environmental values. Their explanation that this would be achievable through their buy-back of some supply contracts, cannot be believed, because the real reason those contracts were bought out was because there was no timber to fill them. Essentially NSW taxpayers forked out hundreds of millions of dollars to buy out contracts for timber that never existed.
However, to achieve their stated aim of no net change to timber supply, the government now intends to allow the logging of previously protected old-growth forest, by re-evaluating their old-growth status. So much for no erosion of environmental values.
Buffer zones on headwater streams have also been reduced from 10 metres to 5 metres, while removing most species-specific protections for threatened species, including the need to look for Koalas. This will allow more trees to be logged.
Possibly the worst plan is to increase logging intensity throughout public forests, identifying over 50 State Forests on the north coast where clear felling and/or double intensity logging will occur. Continued logging of forests affected by dieback is also planned, a problem that resulted from over logging in the first instance.
The Grafton meeting will be held upstairs in the Grafton Services Club at 5 pm on Saturday June 30.