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2/3/2003... Carr ALP electoral play for green vote in NE NSW for marginals there and Sydney

Preface By Tom McLoughlin, ecology action sydney early March 2003

The Carr govt seeks to outflank any negative PR about its other forest destroying policies or plans - like export woodchipping promised to end by 2000, and a charcoal production plant for the silicon industry at 200-300K tonnes per year [on the south coast] - by announcing the protection of 65,000 hectares of good north east forest conservation.

Note however that in the scheme of things more than 500,000 hectares of forest on public and private land has been destroyed since Carr took office in 1995 - that is landclearing (often illegal) for agriculture, clearfelling for the logging industry - on both public and private land.

[refer for instance to the Big Logging List link on the main index page for forests]

Notice too that this particular group media release from NEFA endorses the use of other precious native forests to make up the shortfall of timber volumes to industry via the conservation decision.

We at ecology action sydney call this just moving the bulldozers around on the checker board instead of fundamental reform of the logging industry into existing plantations. Thus we reject the notion this is a desirable precedent for reform of the industry in NSW and across the country - real reform out of native forests is our goal.

It is revealing of this underlying reality for instance that at the last election in 1999 NEFA roundly condemned the Carr govt for its failure to protect many of the forest areas mentioned for protection now 4 years later. In the interim period logging proceeded apace including in many of the areas named now for protection - with a list of forest logged or seriously damaged including Pine Ck, Sheas Nob, Jilliby and probably more. Very sneaky of the Carr govt really.

North East Forest Alliance
c/o Wooli Post Office, Wooli 2462
Phone 02 66 497690

The North East Forest Alliance has applauded the NSW Governments promise of new forest reserves in north-east NSW and congratulated Premier Carr on his decision.

"The announcement by Premier Carr today promises to finally put an end to logging of oldgrowth forests on public land in north-east NSW. It is a landmark decision of outstanding significance for forest conservation in this State. The Carr Labor Government deserves full credit for taking this important step" said Ms Carmel Flint, spokesperson for the North East Forest Alliance.

It is fitting that this announcement will finally protect Chaelundi oldgrowth. The Chaelundi struggle involved a now legendary forest blockade and two successful court actions and was arguably the biggest battle ever waged in NSW over oldgrowth forests. It precipitated a 13 year long campaign to save oldgrowth forests.

"When the legislation Carr has announced today is actually passed, Chaelundi will be safe and the full protection of oldgrowth forests on public land in north-east NSW will have finally been achieved" Ms Flint said.

"Premier Carr's announcement is also a beacon of hope to forest campaigners around the country. It makes it clear that on-going logging of oldgrowth in Tasmania, East Gippsland and other parts of NSW is completely unacceptable to the populace and increases the pressure for full oldgrowth protection throughout Australia" she said.

"Premier Carr has also promised to protect 15 of the most outstanding biodiversity hotspots in north-east NSW. It includes areas such as Whian Whian and Wollumbin which are two of the highest conservation value areas in the State, Jilliby which is the water supply catchment for the Central Coast and a highly diverse and significant forest area, and Pine Creek which is the largest koala population in coastal NSW" Ms Flint said.

"The reservation of core conservation areas such as these will improve the chances of survival for a vast number of threatened species in the region. It will be especially important for the survival of key species such as the koala, the regent honeyeater, the spotted-tailed quoll and the yellow-bellied glider" she said.

"The great thing is that this has been done without having any affect on timber supply to mills in the region. It is a tremendous outcome for conservation which will not adversely affect the timber industry. Extra sources of timber have been made available to off-set any timber lost as a result of these areas being protected" Ms Flint said.

"The announcement today brings the work of thousands and thousands of people who have worked to save oldgrowth forests in the region over the last 15 years to fruition. The on-going support and commitment of the Greens to forest protection in the region has also kept the forest issue alive and contributed significantly to this outcome" Ms Flint said.

Three briefing notes follow with information on each forest area identified for protection.

For more information or comment contact Carmel Flint on 0266 497690 or 0429 091971

* Whian Whian and Wollumbin near Byron Bay, are recognised as one of the most exceptional and outstanding biodiversity hotspots in Australia. They contain remnants of ecosystems which have been cleared almost to extinction. Whian Whian is water catchment for six major regional centres including Byron Bay and Ballina.

* Chaelundi near Grafton, is part of one of the largest areas of tall oldgrowth forest left in north-east NSW, has outstanding conservation and wilderness values, some of the highest densities of arboreal mammals in the world, and has been the subject of two successful legal challenges and a now legendary forest blockade which led to the Greiner Government protecting it in a moratoria from logging in 1991.

* Jilliby near Wyong, is the water catchment for the rapidly growing urban centres of the Central Coast. Government conservation data identifies it as the principal centre of unreserved biodiversity in lower north-east NSW. It contains 8 poorly reserved coastal forest ecosystems and 40 threatened and significant fauna species.

* Black Bulga Range near Dungog, contains magnificent oldgrowth forests in a mosaic of rainforest, tall moist eucalypt forests and dry spotted gum forests. It is an outstanding catchment area of high importance to many species including the koala and several glider species.

* Bungawalbyn near Casino, is widely recognised as the centre of the most important habitat for species of the drier forest types in north-east New South Wales. It is known habitat for the nationally endangered Regent Honeyeater and nationally vulnerable Bush Stone Curlew. It contains one vulnerable ecosystem and three poorly reserved ecosystems that are a high priority for reservation.

* Butterleaf near Glen Innes, is entirely oldgrowth forest and is partly comprised of remnant ecosystems of the New England Tablelands which have been extensively cleared, including two vulnerable ecosystems. It contains a significant disjunct population of the Common Wombat.

* Copeland Tops near Gloucester, is a biodiversity hotspot of outstanding regional significance. It provides known or predicted habitat for more than 40 threatened and significant fauna species nd includes a centre of endemism for high elevation vertebrate fauna. It is a mosaic of oldgrowth forests and rainforest.

* Little Wonder near Nambucca, is recognised as a critical elevational gradient and corridor running from the escarpment to the coastal foothill forests. It is notable for the diverse mosaic of oldgrowth forests, rainforests, rare rainforest suballiances and threatened fauna and flora which it contains.

* Myall River near Bulahdelah, contains four poorly reserved st ecosystems, a predicted 53 threatened and significant fauna species and rainforest and oldgrowth forest remnants in a mosaic which joins Myall Lakes National Park to Ghin-doo-ee National Park to the north.

* Pine Creek near Coffs Harbour, is the largest known koala population on the NSW coast and is uniquely situated to develop into a major tourist attraction between the two growth centres of Bellingen and Coffs Harbour. It contains five poorly reserved coastal forest types.

* Queens Lake near Port Macquarie, will provide a critical forested core to the reserve network in the region by forming a link between Lake Innes Nature Reserve and Queens Lake Nature Reserve. It is a diverse area which is notable for the variety of ecosystems, species and poorly reserved coastal habitats which it contains

* Sheas Nob - near Grafton, is an important link in the Great Escarpment corridor from Guy Fawkes River Wilderness to Nymboi-Binderay National Park. It contains a mosaic of rainforest, oldgrowth forest and other growth stages and provides a critical refuge from the heavy and concentrated logging disturbance which has taken place all around it.

* Sherwood near Coffs Harbour, is one of the best remaining examples of oldgrowth blackbutt left in north-east NSW and is vital for hollow dependent fauna in the region and a major potential asset to tourism around Coffs Harbour.

* Tuggolo near Walcha, is a critical oldgrowth and rainforest addition to the existing reserve and includes large areas of poorly reserved ecosystems which have been heavily cleared throughout the region. It provides habitat for a large number of poorly reserved, oldgrowth dependent fauna species.

* Chaelundi is adjacent to Guy Fawkes River NP north-west of Dorrigo. It encompasses 2563ha of which 1287 is loggable.

* Chaelundi is a conservation icon. It is part of one of the largest areas of tall oldgrowth forest left in north-east NSW, has outstanding conservation and wilderness values, and has been the subject of two successful legal challenges and a now legendary forest blockade.

* The highest densities of arboreal marsupials in the world have been found in this area, together with unusually high densities of ground mammals and top order predators such as the Tiger Quoll, Powerful Owl and Sooty Owl.
* The first protest action started in 1990 and a successful legal action launched at the same time stopped logging and forced State Forests to produce an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to logging. It also forced the then Liberal Government to place large areas of oldgrowth throughout New South Wales in interim protection areas.
* An inadequate EIS was produced and logging started in three forest blocks in the area in 1991. A blockade was set in place which lasted for over three months and at which more than 230 people were arrested.

* The logging was forced to stop again when further successful legal action established that 22 endangered species would be taken or killed if logging continued. The logging was in breach of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and Chaelundi was described in the judgement as "a veritable forest dependent zoo".
* This caused major political turmoil and resulted in the first endangered species legislation, the Endangered Fauna (Interim Protection) Act 1991, being passed by parliament against the Government's wishes.
* The wilderness portion of this Chaelundi proposal includes some inadequately reserved ecosystems, it was all recognised by the Government for reservation in the JANIS outcome and it is almost entirely above threshold of National Estate for a high to very high number of natural values.
* The corridor section includes mostly inadequately reserved ecosystems and a large proportion of oldgrowth forest. The majority of the area is identified as being above threshold of National Estate for a high to very high number of natural values and it includes 3 known records of the nationally endangered Hastings River Mouse with most being modelled habitat for such.

Susie Russell
mobile 0429 655044

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