“We are horrified that as the International Year of Forests draws to a close, we have a Government in Australia proposing to open up protected areas for logging” said NCEC President Susie Russell.
“In response to the Victorian timber supply crisis resulting from decades of over-cutting and unsustainable practices, the Victorian Liberal Minister responsible is recommending the logging of 'parks, reserves and water catchments' 1 as well as reducing protections for endangered species, bringing in 20 year wood supply contracts and making taxpayers liable for any timber shortfalls.
“The Victorian Timber Action Plan released yesterday is an ecological and social disaster,” she said.
“What is alarming is that instead of seeing the writing on the wall for an industry that has failed to develop its own resource or respect the environment, the Victorian Government plans to head back to the dark ages and repeat the same mistakes by entrenching over-cutting, taxpayer liability and weakening environmental protection of key natural assets.
“It is a recipe for ongoing conflict in Victoria's forests. You would think they would have learned something from the NSW experience. In NSW where 20 year contracts have been in place for more than a decade, and despite lax environmental regulation, taxpayers are already paying compensation to timber companies.
“The fight for the forests will be well and truly on again if the NSW Government follows suit and tries to open up protected areas for logging. We certainly hope they have more sense than to return to an era of protracted forest protest, ” she warned.
“We ask that Premier Barry O'Farrell and Forestry Minister Katrina Hodgkinson rule out solving the timber supply crisis in NSW by opening up national parks and other protected areas for logging, or watering down what we consider to be the already weak environmental protection measures that apply to logging.
“The timber supply crisis in NSW can only be dealt with by reducing contracted volumes, and reducing taxpayer liability. The biodiversity and climate crises can only be dealt with by protecting habitat, carbon stored in large trees, reserve connectivity and water catchment integrity.
“The way forward is less native forest logging not more... Victoria is certainly marching backwards under Bailleau,” Ms Russell said.