Monday, February 14, 2011

Forest of election nightmares for major parties - 24 January 2011

Greens MP and environmental spokesperson Ian Cohen is seeking a commitment from the Labor Party and the Coalition to establish an inquiry into the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water's (DECCW) approval of old-growth forest logging. A recent independent audit commissioned by DECCW has revealed consistent and continued approval of illegal logging in old-growth forests.

"Over six months ago at the 2010 Budget Estimates hearings I requested DECCW provide the independent audit of private native forestry in NSW. We now have an independent report before us that clearly demonstrates DECCW have approved areas of old-growth forest for logging, contrary to their own laws and guidelines," said Mr Cohen.

"The review looked at 12 properties undertaking approved private native forestry operations. Extrapolating the results out it appears that 75% of mapped old-growth on those properties (8,490 hectares) has been illegally approved for logging.”

"The results demonstrate that the old-growth forest assessment process is flawed. DECCW has reassessed 9518 hectares and allegedly decided that 7898 hectares are not old-growth forest and is open for logging."

"Considering the dire biodiversity impacts associated with old-growth logging any political party serious about confronting biodiversity loss in NSW should support a rigorous parliamentary inquiry in May 2011."

"Without review and reconsideration, proposed objectives in Draft NSW Biodiversity Strategy 2010-2015 will simply be unattainable. It will greatly undermine our ability to preserve biodiversity in the face of increasing climate change impacts."

"While I was disappointed that the Deputy Opposition Leader, Andrew Stoner allegedly committed the NSW Coalition to 'ripping up' the Native Vegetation Act back in February 2010 I do hope that the Coalition can support a review of how we protect our unique and beautiful old-growth forests and their inherent biodiversity."

"I will be writing to the Leader of the Opposition to secure agreement to refer the regulation of private native forestry to parliamentary inquiry when the new parliament resumes."

Further Information: Ian Cohen 0409 989 466