NSW Red Gum: 109,000ha to be protected... maybe

At the time of our last update on December 7, over 100,000 ha of new red gum national parks in NSW had just been announced... and then put back into doubt, all within a matter of days.

1st February 2010

At the time of our last update on December 7, over 100,000 ha of new red gum national parks in NSW had just been announced... and then put back into doubt, all within a matter of days.

In his final dramatic hours as Premier, Nathan Rees had announced a long-awaited resolution to the dispute over logging in the Red Gum forests that line the Murray and other rivers in the state’s south-west.

Responding to the Natural Resources Commission's final red gum recommendations investigation, his Labor government would protect the majority of the forests in new national parks and reserves, and support the small logging industry to move out of these forests with a $48 million assistance package.

That was on the Thursday 3rd. By Monday the 7th new Premier Christina Keneally was reportedly be reconsidering the parks, stating that they had not been properly approved by Cabinet.

Throughout December, however, Premier Keneally made increasingly positive comments, stating first that parks would be created, only their size and location would be reviewed.

When the full Natural Resources Commission report was publicly released to on December 21st, Premier Keneally stated “the NSW Government wants to protect the River Red Gums and, as I’ve said previously, there will be a National Park."

She also said that her government's final response to the proposals would be developed by a cross-departmental working group and announced in the first months of the new year.

 

The final report of the Natural Resources Commission found that:

A total of 109,000 hectareas of State Forests should be transferred to secure protected areas with the majority recommended as National Parks or Indigenous Protected Areas (this left 35,000 hectares as State Forest available for logging).

An extra 1,200GL of environmental flows is required for the Murray River to ensure the health of River Red Gum forests.

There should be far greater involvement of Indigenous Traditional Owners in future management of River Red Gum forests, and many of the proposed Parks should be jointly managed or handed back to Traditional Owners for them to manage.

Red Gum logging is unsustainable and has been for decades.  The forests have been severely over-cut.  Even without reserves, log volumes must decrease by 70%.

You can download the final report on the Natural Resources Commission website.