The history of the timber industry in NSW is not one to be proud of, and as far back as the 1800s concerns were being raised over its behaviour.
In December 1874, the “Town and Country Journal” published an article which claimed: "Our posterity may yet rue the reckless destruction of good marketable timber, that has now been going on for forty years or more, in all the cedar, pine, and hard wood scrubs and forests that once covered and adorned the rich alluvial soils that lie adjacent to the coast, from the Moruya to the Tweed”.
“No man can traverse these districts without observing with astonishment and indignation the utter disregard of national interests”.
The writer's prediction that: “The annual consumption of cedar in the Australian colonies is such that at this rate the present decade will see the end of the cedar trade”, proved depressingly correct, and by the mid-1880s Red Cedar was all but extinct.
For the next 50 years, the industry turned its insatiable greed to the magnificent Hoop Pine forests, stripping every available dry rainforest pocket to provide box wood, something that only ceased with the introduction of cardboard cartons.
Regulations have been tightened, but industry attitudes it seems remain. In 1999, knowing that fast vanishing old growth forests were about to be protected from logging, Forestry targeted as much old growth as possible before the legislation was enacted in 2000.
A few years later, the Carr government finally fulfilled the promised transfer of numerous state forests to the national parks estate. Predictably, all had every available log stripped from them before the hand-over, much of it leading to weed invasion and die-back.
Today, with enormous pressure to declare a Koala National Park on the North Coast to help halt the rapidly declining numbers of Koalas, it seems the state’s Forests Corporation has a new focus. Using changes recently introduced to the Integrated Forests Operations Approval, it has introduced a clear-felling regime affecting some 140,000 ha, containing what is arguably the best Koala habitat remaining on the north coast.
- John Edwards
This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on April 1, 2019.