500 signatures reached
To: Gladys Berejiklian (Premier of NSW), Matt Kean (Minister for Energy and Environment), David Harris (Member for Wyong), Lucy Wicks (Member for Robertson), Forestry Corporation NSW
Open Letter: End Logging in Ourimbah State Forest
This is an open letter to members of parliament, demanding that native timber harvesting operations in Ourimbah State Forest by Forestry Corporation NSW are ceased along with FCNSW's extractive operations in native forests across the state.
Why is this important?
We, the community surrounding Ourimbah State Forest (OSF), firmly reject Forestry Corporation NSW’s (FCNSW) harvesting operation plan 200001035 in compartments OUR008 and OUR009, and future logging plans in the area. We fundamentally oppose native forest logging in NSW.
We are calling on you to protect OSF by halting the planned logging of this area and to notify you that we plan to take peaceful direct action to stop operations. The insistence of the NSW government to proceed with the destruction of our remaining bushland, along with the desecration of cultural heritage sites and crucial wildlife habitat is a crime against people and nature in the current climate crisis. It is an act of ecocide. The NSW government has consistently ignored the wishes of the people of NSW to protect our native forests, and have instead committed to sustaining an unprofitable extractive industry, with all its negative impacts.
Logging of native forests such as OSF degrades the habitat of key threatened species, negatively affects soil quality and carbon sequestration and drastically increases bushfire risk in the harvested and surrounding areas (Bowd et al., 2019). The Central Coast has a growing population that narrowly avoided the disastrous fires of 2019/2020 and 1994 both of which were barely contained along George Downes Drive and the Pacific Motorway. Continuing to fuel an industry that increases fire-risk and decreases the health and resilience of native forests is deplorable, and clearly shows that the collective pain we felt after the Black Summer Bushfires has quickly escaped the psyche of the NSW government.
Australia has the unenviable reputation as one of the worst developed nations globally for deforestation. The Liberal government clearly ignores its duty of care to Australian citizens and to the land. According to NSW Government data, land clearing of woody vegetation has increased year-upon-year in the last decade (NSW Government, 2019). We must reverse this trend if we are to have any chance of a sustainable future.
OSF is a known koala habitat. It also has cultural heritage sites that have already been degraded. The government’s collusion with the FCNSW and misapplication of the State Environment Planning Policy 44 (SEPP 44) which utterly fails to protect koala habitat demonstrates total lack of leadership in protecting our history, an iconic species and our fragile environment.
According to data, the profit from native forest logging in 2019/20 was $28.00 a hectare, which equates to less than 20 cents for each mature tree logged (David Shoebridge, 2020). When government grants to FCNSW are considered; which totalled $136 million over a 10-year period ending in 2015 (Australian Institute, 2016), the industry runs at a significant loss. It is a burden to the NSW economy and a threat to the ecology of the area. We therefore oppose the Liberal government’s financial and legislative support of the industry. The Central Coast has prime bushland that needs protecting as one of the state’s remaining strongholds of native forest after the Black Summer Bushfires.
Wood from native forest harvesting in NSW is primarily processed in three ways; chipped, pulped, or turned into pellets to be burned in power stations. Biomass (wood burning for energy) releases far more CO2 per kW than coal, yet it is legally a renewable energy source, granting it the same subsidies and privileges as solar and wind (nefa.org, 2020). This is a negligent misrepresentation of the truth, burning our native forests for electricity is not a sustainable energy alternative. Redbank Power station, if reinstated, will release 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 annually, and increase FCNSW’s ability to extract more timber and utilise more components than they were previously able (Renew Economy, 2019). Biomass is not a sustainable alternative to coal and it makes no sense in a climate emergency. We demand that the government protect and replenish forests, not cut them down.
We respect the need for wood products and jobs and call for the Premier to: a) facilitate a full transition to sustainable timber alternatives such as agroforestry, and b) to invest in other industries that not only protect our sacred lands, but create a sustainable job sector, such as ecotourism. These industries will be a wellspring of potential in times to come. Our forests are not bottomless pits for us to extract from, but places of natural beauty and delicate ecosystems. We call upon the government to see that our forests serve us most NOT when commodified, but when they are protected, nurtured and thriving.
There is nothing positive about native forest logging, but the negative impacts are exponential, including loss of habitat and biodiversity leading to further species extinction, loss of international respect, loss of income in eco-tourism, loss of cultural heritage sites and greater bush fire risk. We, as a strong community, will peacefully take direct action if the government does not take our concerns seriously and cease operations in OSF immediately.
How it will be delivered
We will email and deliver hard copies of the letter to the Premier, relevant MPs and FCNSW. We will continue with follow up deliveries and ensure that this letter is read and considered.