<<Taxpayers in NSW are losing money to subsidise the logging of native forests, at an average cost of $671 a hectare ($8 million p.a.), undermining a parliamentary report calling for a massive increase in such logging.
According to new figures, each of the four native forest operations run by the Forestry Corporation of NSW made a loss, combining for a total loss of $7.9 million.
Fees paid to contractors to harvest and haul timber, staff and administration costs for forestry management reached $119 million last year, but revenue from pulpwood and sawlogs was just $111 million.
A state parliamentary inquiry, dominated by the Shooters Party and the Nationals, has recommended an increase in logging of native forests to keep loggers in jobs. But Greens MP David Shoebridge said the data revealing the losses, which was released in response to questions on notice by the Greens, showed any expansion of logging would ”cost taxpayers dearly” and doesn’t make economic sense.
”Wood chipping native forests causes enormous environmental destruction – it’s not like health or education where people expect the government to subsidise a social good,” said Mr Shoebridge. ”Rather than expanding native forest logging, as the Shooters Party and the Nationals are calling for, the government should be actively transitioning away from native forests to plantations.”
Forests NSW, which pays a dividend to the state government, was corporatised in January with the aim of stemming the losses from the native forestry operations, which are being cross-subsidised by profitable plantation logging.
Plantation profits reached $32 million in the 2011/12 financial year, but the dividend paid to the government was cut in half by the loss in the native forests division.
A Forestry Corporation spokeswoman said: ”It is true that in recent years the native forest operations of the former Forests NSW have been loss-making in pure commercial terms.”
She said all aspects of the business are now being reviewed by new management, and new revenue streams and products have been identified, including rocks, gravel, commercial recreation, permits for telecommunications towers and tourism, to generate money.
Forestry is a Costly Cult of Logging Losers
.Timber Getters “A proud a rich history”.. in logging native forests and destroying native habitat for personal profit What’s Changed? These days they do science degrees and come out calling themselves ‘foresters’.
But there are no plans to stop logging in native forests because the state government is locked into contracts with long-term wood supply commitments.
”The timber industry is often the main employer and source of economic activity in rural and regional areas,” the spokeswoman said.
Mr Shoebridge said the industry was pushing for the government to increase the volume of wood harvested from 160,000 cubic metres to 269,000 cubic metres a year.
”To feed that massive 80 per cent increase will require logging more than 40,000 hectares of NSW forest every year from protected reserve areas and overexploited state forests.”
Logging in Forestry Corporation’s central region native forests near Wauchope lost $2.36 million in 2012. The western region near Dubbo lost $3 million, the north-east region forest near Coffs Harbour lost $1.63 million, while the south-east region near Batemans Bay lost $931,700.
A Forestry Corporation spokeswoman said if logging in native forests was stopped, taxpayers would have to foot the bill for the management of land.>>
.[Source: ‘Hatchet job on native forest logging’, 20130519, by journalist Kirsty Needham, Sydney Morning Herald, ^http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/hatchet-job-on-native-forest-logging-20130518-2jtcf.html]
[Ed: So be it. The $8 million in annual losses would quickly pay for the legal payout of the wood supply contracts. It’s about political will, and Barry is a teddy bear.]
So the timber industry in New South Wales is now pushing to be allowed to log up to a million hectares of national parks so it can harvest the volumes promised in unsustainable timber supply contracts. This outrageous move has occurred at the same time that the NSW Government is conducting a secret review of forestry regulations and timber supply options.
Throughout this review, the timber industry has been campaigning hard to bring in damaging reversals of the hard won forestry regulations that protect our threatened animal and plant species and their habitats.
Premier Barry O’Farrell must resist pressure from the Shooters and Fishers Party, and from within his own government, to make more forests available for logging and other damaging changes to the forestry regulations that protect our unique wildlife and the areas they call home.
It is unthinkable that the O’Farrell Government would allow the destruction of areas like Nightcap National Park so the Forestry Corporation can turn a profit.
.[Source: Kate Smolski, Campaigns Director, Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales, ^http://www.nccnsw.org.au]
.Nightcap National Park in the sights of cowboy hunters
And the shooting threat hasn’t gone away…
<<Several North Coast national parks have been included on a “hit list” of parks to be considered for recreational shooting.
Last week Premier Barry O’Farrell announced changes to the Game and Feral Animal Control Act (2002) that would allow 79 of the state’s 799 national parks, nature reserves and conservation areas to be used by licensed shooters. The list includes the Nightcap, Richmond Range and Yabbra National Parks.
The announcement has been widely criticised by environment groups and the Opposition as a “backroom deal” to secure the support of the Shooters and Fishers Party in return for support to privatise the state’s electricity assets.
Premier O’Farrell said prior to the last election: “There will not be a decision to turn our national parks into hunting reserves.”
Vice president of the ^North Coast Environment Council Mr Jim Morrison said he was “absolutely outraged” by the election backflip.
“We’re disappointed because we were given assurances before the election this would not happen,” he said. “I’ve got little faith in the O’Farrell government now to manage the environment… I think the difficult issue will be compliance because when there are people running around with guns, it will be impossible for National Parks staff to know who is legal and who isn’t… I’m frightened people who visit some of the more remote parks where there aren’t any services will be turned off visiting for activities such as bushwalking.”
Mr Morrison said he also feared a resurgence of “cowboy shooting activity” in remote areas. “It’s a bad message to be supporting a blood sport and I don’t believe it will be an effective way to do feral animal control. It should be managed by park staff.”
The NSW Public Service Association (PSA), which represents park rangers, has directed its members not to assist with any activity involved with establishing recreational hunting in national parks in NSW.
PSA General Secretary Mr John Cahill:
“Our members have expressed serious concerns about the danger to themselves and the community when shooting is allowed in bushland popular with walkers and picnickers. Our members have been working very hard to control and manage feral animals in parks.
Recreational shooting will compromise the professional and scientifically proven feral animal control programs run by National Parks staff, placing native plants and animals at risk.
“Industrial action like this is not a decision we take lightly but we simply cannot let the State Government’s compromise of our national parks to go ahead.”
Spokesperson for the North East Forest Alliance (^NEFA) Dailan Pugh issued a statement calling for the Federal Government to intervene.
“The fact that Premier O’Farrell can say in one breath that they will exclude World Heritage, and in the other identify six World Heritage listed parks for shooting, shows how ill-conceived his backflip is… The Federal Government needs to intervene to over-ride the State Government’s announced intention to allow shooting in world-heritage properties,” Mr Pugh said.
CEO of Northern Rivers Tourism Russell Mills issued a cautious warning. “My initial view is that national parks like the Nightcap that are part of the World Heritage and their primary
drawcard is the pristine nature of the wilderness areas… If National Parks (management) are considering the pros and cons of shooting, I hope they take into consideration the motivation for visiting parks, and I believe they would.”
Rob Andrews from the Northern Zone Hunting Club said he had been “deluged” by up to six calls a day since the Premier’s announcement from people wanting to know how to go about getting licences.>>
.[Source: ‘Parks in shooters’ sights’, 20130607, by journalist Andy Parks, Echo News, ^http://www.echonews.com.au/news/parks-in-shooters-sights-govt-to-allow-hunting-in-/1407811/]
.Richmond Range National Park Targeted for logging and shooting by its custodian, the New South Wales Government [Source: ^http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/richmond-range-national-park]
 ^Forests NSW Annual Report 2011-12.pdf (10.4 MB)