Forests primed for profit

The Forestry Bill 2012 which was passed by the NSW Legislative Council will establish Forests NSW as a profit-making body with little regard for the environmental value of the forests in its care.

Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“The O’Farrell government is transforming Forests NSW from a custodian of two million hectares of precious native forest, to a profit-maximising venture with even less environmental safeguards.

“The statutory obligation for Forestry NSW to¬†preserve and enhance our forest resources above all else has been removed. Instead, decentralisation, economic efficiency and profit are now given equal weight with environmental protection.

“Under this legislation, entire state forests could be managed for private profit. This is shameful treatment of public assets that belong to this and future generations.

“The legislation also allows private and public ‘Land Managers’ to be appointed to manage entire state forests.

“The appointment of Land Managers who can ‘control and manage’ the land¬†as they see fit is a gift for the Game Council.

“Under this legislation, Land Managers could approve activities such as trail bike riding, resort developments and even hunting.

“Indeed, the mention in the legislation of Land Managers conserving fauna ‘other than feral animals’ suggests that the Game Council may be being lined up as potential Land Managers.

“It would be a disaster for the pro-hunting, pro-gun lobby group, the Game Council, to assume the role of custodians of our state forests,” Mr Shoebridge said.

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One Response to Forests primed for profit

  1. Sean Johnson November 18, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Dear David,

    Thank you for taking a stand on this issue.

    I am very concerned about these recent moves by the NSW Government to relax the protection of our forests. Our remaining areas of climax vegetation are a crucial resource for biodiversity, a carbon sink, and natural beauty. We have to actively manage these areas to balance those values with the bush fire danger and potential economic use.

    As an architect, I see the benefit of sustainably using our native timber for high quality purposes (not wood chips) to lock up carbon and create beautiful buildings. But it is hard to know just how sustainable a particular timber supply is. There are so many different certification schemes and conflicting information out there. We need a holistic approach to using our forests sensibly so that native wildlife can thrive while we harvest the materials we need.

    Clearly we should look to the state government to take the lead in rationally balancing the needs of our environment and our economy. Forests NSW should be given the mandate and the resources to do just that and, importantly, to communicate the rational arguments around these issues to the public.

    For too long the battle between conservation and forestry has been polarised. We need a consensus approach and I would be interested to hear from you how you think this might be achieved politically.

    Yours sincerely

    Sean Johnson