Groups unite to condemn red gum back down

Seven environment groups from across two states condemned today’s decision by the NSW Government to back down on the protection of River Red Gum wetlands.

3 March 2010

MEDIA RELEASE

Friends of the Earth / The Wilderness Society / Victorian National Parks Association / Nature Conservation Council of NSW / North Coast Environment Council / National Parks Association of NSW / Colong Foundation for Wilderness

Seven environment groups from across two states condemned today’s decision by the NSW Government to back down on the protection of River Red Gum wetlands.

"Despite today’s rhetoric of new national park protection for river red gum, the State Government has kept the best areas open to logging for five years,” said Peter Cooper, Campaigner for The Wilderness Society Sydney.

“This is disastrous - these forests cannot sustain another five years of intensive logging damage."

"The Millewa forest, identified as an area significant enough for national park protection, will wait five years before it is protected.  This is an exceedingly generous outcome for the forestry industry but a very poor one for conservation," said Mr Cooper.

“This was the decision to judge Premier Keneally’s environmental credentials and she has clearly failed.  We are still to see any serious environmental outcomes from Labor in this term of Government and now Premier Keneally has reversed the promises made for these forests.”

“Use of the NSW Environment Trust to continue logging is entirely inappropriate – vast funds will be spent without delivering the environmental outcomes which were promised.”

“Today’s decision compares starkly with the approach taken by the Victorian Government when faced with a similar decision in December 2008,” said Jonathan La Nauze, Friends of the Earth spokesperson.

“When Victoria protected 91,000 hectares of Red Gum environment groups described it as ‘one of the most significant conservation decisions in the state’s history’.  The NSW decision today was described by the groups as an ‘empty shell’.”

“The Victorian Government delivered world class National Parks, including the full protection of the Barmah forest.  Today the NSW Government delivered a pathetic environmental compromise on the other side of the Murray River, with the unprecedented step of opening up half the Millewa to logging for the next five years before making it national park.”

“The Victorian Government delivered a jobs positive outcome which will see a net increase in employment for the region. The NSW Government has condemned the region to remaining stuck in the past with a protracted phase-out of industrial-scale logging that delays the opportunity for new jobs creation”, said Mr La Nauze.

Contact
Peter Cooper, The Wilderness Society Sydney, 0400 521 474
Jonathan La Nauze, Friends of the Earth, 0402 904 251