Forests NSW accused of illegal logging

Logging in Yabbra State Forest. Photo: Nefa.org.au
Saturday, February 12, 2011

A new report by the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has slammed government-owned Forests NSW for what it calls “illegal and blatantly unsustainable logging” in public lands near Coffs Harbour.

Forests NSW’s timber has been accredited as ecological and sustainable by the government-appointed accreditation body Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) and the certification company NCS International.

The accreditation allows Forests NSW to claim its timber meets the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS). NEFA’s Dalian Pugh said Forests NSW’s accreditation should be withdrawn.

“Continuing to accredit the illegal and blatantly unsustainable logging we have revealed discredits Australia’s certification system and threatens to bring all accredited forestry products from Australia into disrepute,” Pugh said.

“NEFA audits of logging operations over the past year have revealed frequent and systematic breaches of legal conditions governing logging.

“Whether it is old-growth, rainforest, endangered ecosystems, threatened fauna habitat or stream banks, we have found that they are being illegally logged all the time.”

Pugh said that The Environmental Defenders Office has written to JAS-ANZ and NCS International to ask them to immediately suspend Forests NSW’s accreditation under the AFS.

NEFA will also refer its complaint to the world’s biggest assessor of sustainable forest management — the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification scheme.

Pugh said: “People in Australia and overseas paying a premium to buy AFS-certified timber have a right to expect that their timber will not be sourced from such acts of environmental vandalism.

“If a customer purchases AFS-certified timber from upper northeast NSW there is no doubt it will be sourced from a forest logged on an unsustainable yield basis, a direct contravention of the concept of ecological sustainability.”

[The NEFA report is available at www.nefa.org.au .]