Breakthrough for NSW Red Gum Forests

More than a year after the Victorian Government declared the beginning of a new era for our River Red Gum forests through the creation of new national parks the NSW Government is finally catching up.

25th August 2009

More than a year after the Victorian Government declared the beginning of a new era for our River Red Gum forests through the creation of new national parks the NSW Government is finally catching up.

First round submission due August 28th - click here for tips on making a submission today!


Premier Intervenes
Late last month NSW Premier Nathan Rees ordered the Natural Resources Commission to conduct an assessment of River Red Gum forests in the state's south west. The Premier's intervention broke the deadlock between the state logging agency and the commonwealth government, who had insisted the logging be reffered for assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999). This made the continuation of logging unlawful, but Forests NSW refused to comply with the Commonwealth directive.

We welcome the assessment as a step towards conservation outcomes for the Riverina, and call on the Commission to immediately sit down with Traditional Owners and listen to their aspirations for country.

The Yorta Yorta and Barapa Barapa peoples have restated their long-held demand for Jointly Managed National Parks. Commenting on the Premier's announcement, Yorta Yorta Chairperson Neville Atkinson said “Jointly Managed National Parks are governed by a local board with local people. This way all of us, black and white, can build a partnership for the future." (Click here to view our joint press release)

Unlike Victoria which is still in the process of developing joint management legislation, NSW have a successful system of jointly managed parks dating back ten years. Under Part 4a of the National Parks Act, parks can be handed back to Traditional Owners under the "Kakadu model" and then leased to the government for use as a national park.

Logging still illegal
Although a significant step forward, the Red Gum Assessment does not mean red gum logging in NSW is suddenly lawful. Red gum logging under the direction of Forests NSW remains in breach of both the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (1979) and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999).

The assessment will reccomend to the State and Commonwealth Environment Ministers whether any red gum logging should be permitted, and if so, any additional conditions (such as increased retention of habitat trees or the creation of an adequate national park system) that should be applied. Only if the Ministers then grant approvals under their respective Acts will NSW red gum logging become legal.

We do not support the continuation of logging whilst the assessment is conducted and call on the NSW government to immediately place a moratorium on red gum logging in all state forests.

Assessment to Report in November
The NSW Natural Resources Commission will be conducting the assessment over the coming three months, during which they are inviting submissions from the community in two periods. We encourage you to make a submission on both ocassions to ensure the voice of environmental justice is heard.

First round submission due August 28th - click here for tips on making a submission today!

We will publish alerts for second round submissions in future updates.

It is pleasing to see that the Terms of Reference require that the Commission consult with Traditional Owners and explore "opportunities for Indigenous involvement in forest management." With at least two traditional owner nations having a long-standing aspiration for Part 4A (Aboriginal Owned) National Parks, it would seem self-evident that at the least, the Millewa and Koondrook-Pericoota forests should be protected from logging and handed over the the Yorta Yorta and Barapa Barapa peoples for joint management.

Throughout the investigation we will be in close contact with all Traditional Owner nations within the investigation area and will to keep a close eye on the Commission's progress. We will be keeping you updated throughout this exciting time via the website and our ebulletinso look out for updates in the coming months.

For more information on the assessment, visit the Natural Resources Commission website.