Nature Conservation Council urges New South Wales government to release Natural Resources Commission review of draft private native forestry codes; it says people have right to know what impact codes will have on wildlife, carbon stores, water supplies

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CHIPPENDALE, Australia , March 7, 2022 (press release) –

The Nature Conservation Council calls on NSW Government to release the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) review of draft private native forestry codes when it reports later this month. 

It was revealed at Budget Estimates on Tuesday [1] the NRC was reviewing the proposed PNF codes at the centre of the Coalition’s koala wars last year.  It was also revealed the government intends to keep the NRC report secret. 

“The NSW Government must make the NRC review public — the people have a right to know what impact these codes will have on wildlife, carbon stores and water supplies,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.  

“This week’s UN report warned NSW forests face unprecedented threats from climate change [2] yet these forests also have a significant role to play in slowing and reversing climate change. 

“This makes management of the total forest estate — public and private — a matter of vital public interest.”  

Mr Gambian said the PNF codes would have a significant bearing on Australia’s ability to reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030, as it committed to do at last year’s climate conference, [3] and save koalas from extinction.  

“The public must have confidence the proposed codes do not undermine the $193 million koala strategy the government is about to release,” he said.  

“The people of NSW have a right to know if the new codes will see more koalas killed or fewer. It’s not much more complicated than that. Both scenarios have support within the government, so let’s see who has won.” 

The government also revealed at Budget Estimates: 

The area of forest destroyed by private native forestry each year is not recorded.   
Less than 1% of properties with PNF plans were inspected by compliance officers in the past year (17 inspections out of 3,735 PNF plans). Those inspections resulted in 21 compliance notices being issued.  
“That’s simply not good enough,” Mr Gambian said. “There are almost 9 million hectares of forest on private land in NSW, about 40 per cent of the total native forest estate. [4] 

“The government clearly needs to boost resources for monitoring and compliance, especially as private native forestry looks set to increase significantly. 

“As the amount of timber available from state forests continues to decline after decades of overharvesting and catastrophic bushfires, the government and industry both appear to be gearing up to intensify operations on private land.  

“We must not repeat the mistakes we have made in public native forests by degrading millions of hectares of private forests with ecologically unsustainable practices. 

“We call on the NSW Government to make the NRC review public when it reports its findings.” 

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Dan Rivard
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