National Park logging call is risky, unproven and unpopular

Barmah_forest.jpgEnvironment group Friends of the Earth has condemned a call by NSW logging interests to open iconic River Red Gum national parks for commercial timber harvesting.

The NSW Forest Industries Taskforce and a local Red Gum Taskforce have both, this week, claimed that logging will benefit the local environment and reduce fire risk.

Friends of the Earth led a campaign to have the world’s largest remaining River Red Gum forests protected on both sides of the Murray River in 2010 and has condemned the call as misleading.

“There is no scientific evidence that backs the Red Gum Taskforce’s claim that logging these forests is good for the environment or reduces fire risk,” said Friends of the Earth Community Campaigner Will Mooney. “In fact, the New South Wales Government’s own Public Environmental Report shows that a ‘thinning’ trial planned for the Barmah-Millewa National Park would increase the fire risk in that forest,” Will Mooney said.

“Logging has damaged the natural and cultural values of these unique forests, which is why the NSW Natural Resources Commission in 2009 recommended the creation of ‘trans-border iconic national parks’.  Opening these national parks to a new round of logging will impose further risks on threatened species and set a dangerous precedent.  If national parks aren’t safe from logging, where is?” Will Mooney said.

“The logging industry was paid over $90 million between 2010 and 12 to transition out of logging in these forests, with $3million paid to one sawmill alone. For the logging industry now to seek access to these forests again indicates blatant disregard for that publicly agreed process. It is now clear that plans for ‘Ecological thinning’ trials in Red Gum national parks are a foot in the door for full scale commercial logging.”

In November 2013 the NSW Government ruled out allowing logging in the State’s National Parks. Friends of the Earth is calling on Premier Mike Baird to honor that commitment and reject this latest bid to open parks for logging.

“Australians value our national parks and they don’t want to see the logging industry given free reign to dictate policy in these precious areas. The public must be assured that our national assets are being adequately funded and managed for the benefit of whole community, not just one industry that has already received tens of millions of dollars to develop sustainable alternatives,” Will Mooney said.