The historic agreement between Tasmanian conservationists, industry and government to end native forest logging and move into plantation-based wood sources provides a prime opportunity for an end to woodchip exports and forest-fuelled furnaces in NSW, according to a coalition of the state’s environment groups.
Woodchipping is still driving the logging industry in NSW, with one million tonnes of native forest wood chips exported from Eden alone each year.
Nature Conservation Council of NSW Chief Executive Officer, Pepe Clarke, said Tasmania has shown the way forward for a new era where high conservation value forests are protected from ending up in the chipper or burnt for electricity.
“We welcome the Tasmanian agreement and hope NSW will continue the momentum by reaching agreement on protecting native forests while creating sustainable timber industries based mainly on plantation sources,” he said.
North Coast Environment Council spokesperson, Jim Morrison, said the Tasmanian agreement was the beginning of the end for native forest woodchip exports from NSW.
“Tassie shows that in the end industry, unions and conservationists need to reach an agreed outcome for the forests. The Regional Forest Agreements have failed to deliver good forest management,” he said.
“Across NSW, the government entered into wood volume contracts that are way above ecologically sustainable yields, resulting in forest areas of high conservation value being destroyed on a regular basis in order to get more wood out. There is no long-term future for an industry that destroys the ecological integrity of the forests.”
South East Region Conservation Alliance convener, Keith Hughes, said that the achievement of Tasmanian conservationists in stopping burning native forest wood for electricity was particularly important for south east NSW.
“Eden could soon have Australia's first wood-fired power station if the Minister for Planning approves an application from the Eden woodchip mill for a plant that will generate many more times the greenhouse gas emissions than an equivalent coal-fired power station,” he said.