16th October 2009
Documents obtained by a NSW environment group under Freedom of Information have revealed that Forests NSW lied to the Commonwealth Environment Department earlier this year in an attempt to fight off Federal intervention in illegal state government logging.
The documents - correspondence between Forests NSW and the Federal Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) - also reveal that Forests NSW rejected even the most basic measures proposed by the Commonwealth to mitigate the environmental impacts of the logging, which is occurring in internationally recognised Red Gum Wetlands.
Earlier today, Carmel Flint, a spokeswoman for the National Parks Association who obtained the documents, saidÂ â€œthe correspondence reveals an extraordinary case of a NSW Government agency stridently refusing to obey Federal environment laws and bullying the environmental regulator.
â€œForests NSW say in one letter â€˜the industry will rapidly close down as a result of the actions proposed by the DEWHAâ€™ and that â€˜this will force in excess of 500 people directly employed out of work as well as approximately 360 additional people whose livelihoods depend on the industryâ€™.
â€œHowever, the recent report by the Natural Resources Commission shows that there are only 157 direct jobs in Red Gum logging. Only a fraction of these would have been affected by Federal action.
â€œForests NSW deliberately misled the Federal Government on job impacts in order to flout the law.
â€œThe correspondence also shows a stubborn refusal to apply even the most basic environmental prescriptions. In the letters, Forests NSW refuse to protect streamside vegetation, refuse to increase protection of old hollow trees, and refuse to conduct plant and animal surveys.
â€œElsewhere in NSW such protections were in place more than a decade ago, but here where Forests NSW have been caught red-handed, logging illegally, they have still refused to apply the most basic environmental prescriptions, and apparently got away with it.
â€œThe Federal Government should now take urgent action to restore the credibility of its environmental law by immediately stopping the illegal logging of River Red Gum Ramsar wetlands as they should have done six months agoâ€ Ms Flint said.Â
For more information and to read the full press release, visit the National Parks Association website.
To take action today to protect the red gum forests of NSW, make a submission to the NSW governement using our online form in just two minutes, or read more about how to make a more detailed submission here.