Independent NSW MP Justin Field has renewed calls for a moratorium on logging in NSW forests as media reports reveal that logging in both burnt and unburnt forests has ramped up, threatening the recovery of forests and wildlife already devastated by the Summer fires.
The call follows warnings from scientists that logging of burnt fires in other regions had “damaged forest floors, destroyed more wildlife habitat and left the forests more prone to bushfires” (Sydney Morning Herald, 1 April 2020: Despite the fires, logging continues in damaged fires)
Independent NSW MP Justin Field, who lives near the South Brooman Forest in the Shoalhaven and viewed some of the current logging activities said: “I'm calling for a moratorium on logging until a full assessment of the ecological and wood supply impacts of the fires has been undertaken. The priority has to be on ecological recovery and ensuring any future logging doesn't undermine that recovery.
"Our region was devastated by the fires, countless numbers of animals died in the fires but the Berejiklian Government is acting as if nothing has changed. Burnt forest logging is now happening across the state and planned for at least 45 areas across 11 of State Forests with more to come.
“Communities who survived the devastating fire season and who saw the destruction of these forests and wildlife are horrified. Community groups are right to ask why logging operations have restarted so soon after the fires with little to no assessment, particularly when they see important remaining habitat logged like in the Styx River, Lower Bucca and South Brooman state forests.
Recent questioning in recent budget estimates uncovered that Forestry Corporation had ramped up logging post fires to 60% of pre-fire levels despite as much as 50% of the state forest network having been burnt. (See budget estimates transcript p70)
"They've quickly allowed logging back into both the unburnt and burnt native forests, against the clear advice of many scientists, and the volume of the logging is quickly ramping back up to pre-fire levels. This would be devastating on the recovery of the forests.
"I recently saw first hand some of this new logging that has been allowed into one of the burnt forests on the South Coast. There are supposed to be new special rules in place, but barely any trees were left standing. Trees that had only just started to get some of their first green shoots after the fires are now on the back of trucks.
"The reality is that after the fires, every tree really matters now. The value of harvesting burnt timber is minimal. They are worth so much more standing as habitat for wildlife recovery, as carbon storage and filters for water running into local creeks. The fires should have prompted a rethink, but instead the Government has just let the logging rip again.
"The industry will need Government support through a moratorium period, but there is a clear opportunity to repurpose this workforce to focus on the sustainable management of our forests as they recover from the fires, including in fire management for the future."