South Coast Conservationists Reject NSW Government Propaganda on Rotten Forest Deals (AKA Regional Forest Agreements)

Coastwatchers, Eurobodalla Shire’s largest conservation group, has rejected as complete nonsense the recent attempts by the NSW Department of Primary industries (DPI) to defend the existing Regional Forest Agreements and proposed 20 year extensions as ecologically sustainable and economically responsible.

Coastwatcher’s President, Noel Plumb said, “The truth is that these are truly rotten forest deals that deliver our forests to big business and produce few jobs. NSW Government and its Forestry Corporation are responsible for the progressive destruction of some 2 million hectares of State Forest, including some 400,000 ha on the South Coast. The Government is intent on converting native forests to stick farms to supply woodchips, firewood and feedstock for power stations.”

“The recent day of so called consultation by the DPI at Batemans Bay drew some 60 members of the general public, many of them conservation minded and well aware of the appalling management of our forests – well documented in numerous Auditor General’s Reports, independent expert, economic and environment reports, Court decisions on environmental breaches by forestry and Environment Protection Agency records.”

Whilst Coastwatchers led a rally against the proposed new rotten forest deals outside the meeting, inside there was an overwhelming majority who gave the Government a very clear message “No extension or renewal of RFA’s and a rapid end to native forest logging.’”

“All the propaganda in the world cannot change the truth which is absolutely self-evident when you see recent logging around Batemans Bay,” said Mr Plumb.

“We invite South Coast residents to join us on a tour of the recent logging – they will never forget or forgive what they will see – just email contact@coastwatchers.org.au .”

“The DPI is misleading the public also when it implies that native forest logging and woodchipping is critical to a “sector that is valued at $2.4 billion to the NSW economy and directly employs 22,000 people across the state.” The truth is native forest logging employs less than 200 people – fellers, log carriers, chip mill workers and sawmill workers – for the whole South Coast and less than 600 for the whole state. It runs at a huge cost to taxpayers, some $100 million in public subsidies at least over the last twenty years.

“The real forests industry in NSW is based on plantations, not subsidised native forests. All the native forest jobs could be swiftly converted to genuine plantation establishment and management or to conservation and hands on maintenance roles in national parks, land care organisations and neglected Crown lands. The tourism industry on the South Coast has operated under the pall of native forest logging and woodchipping for decades. If this stigma was removed the industry would boom, creating many more job opportunities.”

“Many of these intense, destructive operations can be seen now from the Princes Highway. The Forestry Corporation is now so desperate for resource that it is logging heavily even the tree screens along the highway and other major roads. These screens have been left reasonably intact for many years to hide from the public the large scale and destructive intensity of logging in this day and age of corporate greed.”

Further comment: Noel Plumb 0425 23 83 03 President Coastwatchers                     www.coastwatchers.org.au 

Photographs of recent intensive logging are available.

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