Proposed new logging rules for NSW public land will convert much of the north coast's public forests into “quasi-plantations”, reduce buffers on vital headwater streams and remove protections from most threatened animals and plants.
The proposed changes remove the need to look for and protect most threatened plants and animals. Only 14 animal species and populations are to retain their current protection, 23 will have their protection removed and 26 will have their protection significantly reduced.
Pre-logging surveys will only be required for 17 threatened plant species at specific localities. Only 77 species of threatened plants will retain their current protections, 326 will lose all their current protections and 32 species will have their protections significantly reduced.
North Coast Environment Council vice-president Susie Russell said: "We are calling on the Minister for the Environment, Gabrielle Upton, to honour the government's promise that there will be 'no erosion of environmental values' by urgently intervening to stop the Forestry Corporation and the so-called Environment Protection Authority (EPA) doing a deal which will slash protections for streams and hundreds of plant and animal species, including the koala."
North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Dailan Pugh said: "It is clear from the documents that the EPA have allowed the Forestry Corporation to write their own rules. How can a body responsible for protecting threatened species consider that it is acceptable to remove requirements to look before logging and to remove and reduce needed protections for hundreds of threatened species.
"It is the height of irresponsibility to open up existing exclusion areas established around records of threatened species for logging. Not only will the Forestry Corporation no longer be required to undertake scat surveys to identify Koala High Use Areas, but all those identified over the past 20 years will now be able to be logged."
Russell said: "The proposal involves the intensification of logging throughout coastal forests. In a meeting with the EPA board, the head of the EPA Barry Buffier described the North Coast Intensive Zone as creating 'quasi-plantations'.
“It is astounding that the EPA can condone removing environmental protections to allow thousands of hectares of complex native forests to be converted to simple quasi-plantations dominated by the logging industry's preferred timber species. There is plenty of cleared land where plantations can be established.”