NSW gov't mismanaging rare Red Gum forest, says FoE

September 12, 2011

Friends of the Earth released the statement below on September 12.

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The NSW government is mismanaging one of the Murray-Darling’s most significant wetlands, deciding last week to open up the Millewa section of the Murray Valley National Park to more firewood collection.

"The Barmah-Millewa forest is an internationally significant Ramsar-listed wetland, and the largest Red Gum forest left on Earth,” said Friends of the Earth spokesperson Jonathan La Nauze.

"It has been placed in a National Park to protect its outstanding environmental values and widespread firewood collection will threaten those values.

"Large fallen timber is incredibly important to the way that wetlands function during floods. It affects the movement patterns of water and provides important habitat for native fish.

“Satisfying community firewood demand is important but stripping a globally significant wetland of its habitat logs is a lazy and reckless way to do it.

"The firewood decision by the NSW Government raises questions not only about the future of Barmah-Millewa but also other wetlands across the Basin.

"It comes as questions are raised about the role that states such as NSW are playing in the development of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

"Inter-state disputes have hampered real action on the Murray-Darling Basin for more than century. It's time that this out-dated parochialism came to end.

"We are disappointed to see the NSW government going down a path of increased exploitation of our dwindling wetlands.

"The best hope for the future of the Murray-Darling Basin is best practice management of wetlands and a strong Basin Plan.

"The NSW government is not looking good on either point at this stage."

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