Wauchope part of national forest uprising on February 13

National action: Wauchope will be part of a national forest uprising on Wednesday, February 13.
National action: Wauchope will be part of a national forest uprising on Wednesday, February 13.

Wauchope will be one of a number of regional centres to join Wednesday’s National Forest Uprising.

The uprising is drawing together forest-interested groups to tell state and federal governments that the current forest clearing practices requires urgent attention.

The main action will centre on Canberra.

The Wauchope event is being led by Vicki Burrows.

"Forests are disappearing so fast in NSW and Queensland that World Wide Fund (WWF) International has put Australia on its list of global deforestation hot spots – the only one in the developed world – while koala populations continue to be decimated through habitat loss," Ms Burrow said.

"Wauchope has joined this movement with the intention of informing the public of what has been going on with our state and private native forestry. 

"In the late 90’s Forestry and concerned groups came together with a value added agreement to reduce harvest quotas while increasing the timbers end use value. 

"Those were the days of selective logging," she said.

"Since then, globalisation and corporate takeovers from small operators has led to increased land clearing and low end use. Woodchip was intended to be sourced from the leftovers. 

"However the logged areas are covered with the remnants. Increased mechanisation results in larger areas being clear felled sometimes as low as 25% used for high end use. 

"This has been turning our native forests into plantations of monoculture."

Ms Burrows said if Forestry is 'going industrial' then why not plant on vacant agricultural land and farm the trees leaving the remaining native State Forests to habitat, biodiversity and carbon credits. 

In 2016 an economic analysis by the Australian Institute found the NSW native forests were worth more standing if included in the Emissions Reduction Fund creating, jobs in forest recovery. 

Currently, taxpayers subsidise the forest industry and corporate get the profit, Ms Burrow said. 

In 2016 one third of forestry jobs were axed in an attempt to make it more profitable, with the decline in the use of paper export woodchip no longer profitable. 

"The over commitment in quotas to Boral have cost the taxpayer millions in compensation," Ms Burrow said. "Not to mention the pressure exerted on our forests.

Total employment in Forestry NSW is 0.1%; native forestry represents an even smaller share of total employment.

Vicki Burrows

"Total employment in Forestry NSW is 0.1%; native forestry represents an even smaller share of total employment. The demand for hardwood is falling the soft wood demand is increasing. 

"Considering native state forest hardwood represents only 25% of total harvesting volume by Forestry Corporation it is likely that not more than 600 people are directly employed in the native forestry and logging industry in NSW. 

"There is some related employment in wood processing and transport as a result of native forest logging, although precise numbers are difficult to estimate due to crossover with other industries and plantation forestry. "

Ms Burrows said that given the cost to NSW taxpayers of propping up an unprofitable business, and the potential value left on the table from ERF revenue, the question of how much more we are willing to pay to keep this small industry afloat must be answered. 

This extensive clear felling flattens the forest into wind rows of smaller trees, not taken for wood chip, she said. Left to lie in an increasingly dry environment becoming fuel. 

Of course this destroys local habitat increasing the pressure on native animals, including our iconic Koala, she added.

Forests are well known for their contribution to abet climate change if left to grow old.

"So if it wasn’t bad enough, the new IFOA Forestry approvals which come from both state and federal government are much worse," Ms Burrows said.

"These were pushed through after over 3000 submissions in objection and with no environment impact report from Forestry for logging operations over the last 10 years. 

"The new logging rules increase logging intensity to include 140.000ha between Taree and Grafton 39% of which is Koala core habitat. Now allowing 60ha areas to be clear felled. Its limit was 0.25ha. 

"This will also opening up to logging of old growth and rainforests. EPA is no longer involved and very little in the way of environmental assessment is given prior to logging. 

"Stream buffers are halved, the removal of most wildlife protections including koala high use areas."

Wednesday's National Forest Uprising includes a street march and speeches around noon at Bain Park.

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