Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Native Species at Risk in Logger Plan; Conservationists Warn That Changes Will Convert Biologically Complex Forests into Monocultures

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Native Species at Risk in Logger Plan; Conservationists Warn That Changes Will Convert Biologically Complex Forests into Monocultures

Article excerpt

NEW logging laws will render forestry areas in the Clarence Valley unfit for native species, according to the state's leading forest conservation groups.

The laws released by the NSW Government this week sacrifice environmental protection to timber extraction, the groups believe.

They have warned that the proposed changes will degrade large areas of publicly owned native forests and quickly render them unfit for native species.

The proposed sweeping changes to laws, called "integrated forestry operations approvals", will:

* Increase logging intensity throughout public native forests, including allowing high-intensity logging to 140,000ha of coastal forests between Taree and Grafton, enabling clear-felling of areas up to 45ha in one go.

This will convert biologically complex, natural forests into monocultures.

* Permit logging in stream buffer zones that are currently out of bounds for logging. These areas are the most important refuges for threatened species left in many forests, including gliders and quolls.

* Put previously protected old-growth forest at risk of logging by remapping these high-conservation-value areas.

Old-growth forests are rare and provide vital refuges for threatened species, including large owls and gliders.

* Remove the requirement to identify and exclude logging from koala high-use areas, increasing the threats to koalas.

What they said:

NSW National Parks Association CEO Alix Goodwin said: "The changes are driven by the government's commitment to maintaining timber volumes under sawmill wood supply agreements, despite the timber not being available.

"This move strips all pretence of sustainability away from logging in NSW.

"An industry that is intensively logging koala and glider habitat can no longer claim that it's 'world's best practice'. …

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