For years many conservationists and scientists have been concerned about State Forests in NSW and the detrimental effect poor management has had on biodiversity and the natural landscape in general. Forest Corporation, the body responsible for the management of our publicly-owned forests, has been criticised for mismanagement and for flagrant breaches of the weak regulations which are supposed to govern its operations.
Earlier this month NEFA (North East Forest Alliance) campaigner Dailan Pugh published a report on why public native forests in north-east NSW should be protected.
He said that Forest Corporation was not just running down log volumes but was responsible for increased erosion which is depleting soils and polluting waters. Other problems from its management include reduced streamflows following regrowth, increased weed growth because of frequent disturbances, and more wildfires. So the survival of forest species is being increasingly threatened.
The native fauna dependent on these forests are severely impacted as our forests are degraded. Fewer big trees and recruitment trees are being retained. Mr Pugh points out that the bigger trees have the most nectar for browsing and stability for nesting and roosting and do not develop hollows in their branches and trunks until they are over 120 years old. Seventy species (28%) of vertebrates in north-east NSW rely on tree hollows for dens, nests and roosts. Hollows for the larger of these species will not develop until trees are over 220 years old.
He said, “Animals that rely on the resources provided by older trees are becoming increasingly endangered as their foods and homes are lost, populations decline and social systems collapse. Other species reliant upon specialised understorey habitats or reliable stream flows are being similarly affected.”
While the biodiversity crisis in NSW extends across the broad landscape – that is, not just in State Forests – it is being made much worse by the continuation of unsustainable logging in our public native forests.
Demands to phase out native forest logging in NSW will grow until the government follows the Victorian and Western Australian lead.
- Leonie Blain
Published in the "Voices for the Earth" column in The Clarence Valley Independent 22nd March 2023.