- Protect our land and water from mining.
- Honesty and integrity in politics
- Local jobs
- People before profits
- Improved heath and education services.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Macleay Argus Story: Court action over supply of timbers

In the previous column I wrote of the continual breaches of numerous statutory licence conditions by Forests NSW in North Coast and South Coast forests.
While the penalty notices and fines have not been enough to worry the loggers, I am aware of a poll in the Coffs Advocate where 92 per cent of respondents said the logging of the Boambee State Forest koala habitat should be stopped.

It is plain the government and logging companies are at risk of losing their social licence and approval for an industry upon which our North Coast communities depend in some form or another.

The government and companies know they are losing credibility as corporate citizens and I have been trying to find out why they continue to commit these breaches.

The Regional Forest Agreement (including the IFOA) was drawn up in 1998 between the industry and the government, with environmentalists excluded from the discussions although they tried as hard as they could to point out the required timber was not there.

The shortfall became more apparent around 2003 when a new agreement was signed with Boral by the Forestry Commission and the government of NSW on your behalf.

In what seems now an astounding blunder, the government at that time removed the clause that allowed it to reduce commitments in line with yield reviews.

By 2004 the Allen Taylor mill at South Kempsey was merged with the Herons Creek mill to take advantage of federal government funding to set up for smaller log

This seemed to confirm environmentalists’ concerns that the big logs were going at a faster rate than they were being replaced by new growth.

Everyone knows it takes 50 years to get a decent sized tree and the big ones with hollows for critters such as possums, gliders and parrots take up to 200 years.

You don’t see too many of them if you look through the screen of bigger trees beside the highway and see the field of sticks in your State forest.

You can’t run a harvest rotation of less than 20 years and expect the forest to keep up the supply of millable logs.

So it was no surprise to find that Boral received $500,000 of your tax money in 2006 because Forests
NSW and the government failed to manage to supply the promised quotas of premium saw logs.
From that time on activists began to collate more and more incidents of breaches which the environment department, whether it was called DEC, DECC, DECCW or OEH, had been apparently unable to find without help.

It became obvious that in the relentless pursuit for timber to fill the quotas new areas were sought even if it meant breaking the rules about unmarked streamlines, oldgrowth, rainforest, percentage cut, failure to monitor or audit the take, and failure to mark up habitat trees.

But with all that, the lack of resource and the need to keep the small mills going still prevented Forests NSW supplying the agreed amount of premium logs to Boral. So it was no surprise when Allen Taylor and Co. Ltd and Duncan’s Holdings launched a summons for the Forestry Commission of NSW and the State of NSW to appear in the Supreme Court of NSW in Sydney.

Both companies are part of the Boral group and their brief alleges failure to supply the agreed quantities of premium logs (blackbutt, spotted gum and brushbox) and supply of greater quantities of smaller logs than was agreed. Boral however is not saying the logs are not there, rather they contend Forests NSW are supplying those premium high quality logs to third parties or other mills on the North Coast.

So because of the previous refusal to listen to the people telling previous government departments the supply was not there, the NSW Coalition is faced with the dilemma of denying the small mills the logs they need to survive, or on the other hand paying out Boral in a huge settlement. The court proceedings are listed for later this year. 


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