The Berejiklian government is facing calls to stop all logging in Nieu-Suid-Wallis native forests after a forestry agency review found the catastrophic 2019-20 bushfires reduced the amount of available timber by as much as 30%.
Die verslag doen, published by the NSW Forestry Corporation on Friday night, finds the effects of the disaster have dramatically reduced the amount of timber that can be sustainably harvested in some areas, particularly on the state’s south coast.
The independent MLC Justin Field said the state government must now consider a halt on native forest logging and conduct an urgent review of logging rules.
The review examined how much timber could be sustainably supplied each year while still meeting environmental rules in place for native forestry operations.
It found the effect of the fires was varied across the state, identifying a 30% reduction in high-quality timber supply in south coast forests, 27% in Tumut, 14% in Eden and 4% in forests in the north-east of NSW.
It recommends that the commercial wood supply from each of these regions be reduced to align with the findings.
Field, who uncovered the existence of the report through a parliamentary hearing, said the findings would put more pressure on the Forestry Corporation, which has to renegotiate several wood supply contracts that are due to expire in 2023.
“This yield review shows that logging under pre-fire rules is totally unsustainable," hy het gesê.
“I’m calling for an immediate moratorium on logging in public native forest in NSW, particularly on the badly burnt south coast.”
Field said a resensie by the Natural Resources Commission of forestry operations in fire-hit regions should be completed before any new logging was considered.
He also questioned how the NSW Forestry Corporation arrived at a 4% supply loss for forests in the state’s north when its review had concluded 49% of the forests in that area were fire-affected.
The NSW forestry minister, John Barilaro, said the results of the review were varied across the state and that business as usual in some areas would not be possible.
“In some areas we will be able to largely continue to supply timber at existing levels over the long term as forests are harvested and regrown time and again," hy het gesê.
“In other areas we cannot carry on with business as usual over the long term and will need to work with timber mills to make adjustments to supply.”
The NSW Forestry Corporation has told the state’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) it would not operate under rules set up to protect forests after the bushfires and would resume logging in fire-affected areas.
Maandag, government minister and Bega MP Andrew Constance told the ABC that the Forestry Corporation was “out of touch” with what south coast residents had been through and called for the agency to be disbanded given the rising tensions between it and the EPA.
“I think it has become a body that butts heads with the EPA the entire time," hy het gesê.
A spokeswoman for the EPA said the regulator was reviewing the report and had increased its oversight of logging operations.
“EPA officers are actively monitoring forestry operations at all stages of logging – pre, during and post harvesting," sy het gese.
“Where the EPA identifies a non-compliance, it will take appropriate regulatory action.”
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW said the reduced yields proposed by forestry in its report were still environmentally unsustainable and ignored the impact of fires on wildlife habitat.
“Forestry Corporation admitted last year that two-thirds of greater glider habitat was badly burnt, but this assessment makes no allowance for protecting hollow-bearing trees gliders use for nesting dens – absolutely zero,” the Nature Conservation Council’s chief executive, Chris Gambian, gesê.
“Logging at these levels will convert the public forest from stands of big old trees full of wildlife to thickets that will be converted to wood chips and toilet paper.
“There is nothing sustainable about it.”