23 February 2024

Bega Council to investigate removing 'bureaucracy' around logging on private land

| Albert McKnight
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Tantawangalo State Forest June/July 2019. Photo: Peter Day.

A scene of logging in the Tantawangalo State Forest in 2019. Photo: Peter Day.

Bega Valley Shire Council will investigate a proposal to reduce the “bureaucracy” around allowing native forest logging on private land, despite concerns that the move could allow a “free for all”.

The issue saw an emotional debate between councillors at their meeting on Wednesday (20 February) before only two ultimately voted against the move.

However, councillors were divided when it came to a motion to support the region’s forestry industry in general, with Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick having to use his casting vote to break the deadlock to pass this as well.

The main motion was to hold a workshop for councillors to discuss the logistics around a proposal to allow landowners to have their land logged for forestry without seeking approval from council.

This would apply for land listed as RU2 – Rural Landscape, which council staff said covered about 44,626 hectares in the shire, and landowners would apparently still have to seek approval from Local Land Services.

“All this motion is doing is taking away one level of bureaucracy,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.

He said it was an area where council did not need to have any role and the motion was about giving farmers an opportunity – an opportunity which they might not choose to take up.

“All it allows them to do is go straight to Local Land Services,” the mayor said.

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Cr Tony Allen agreed the move was about reducing a level of administration and called it a “long overdue change”.

“The logging industry is totally sustainable. Trees regrow,” he said.

But the Greens’ Deputy Mayor Cathy Griff thought the proposed amendment to Bega Local Environmental Plan 2013 could create a “free for all”.

“This is about individuals making money at the expense of the environment that we live in,” she said.

A public meeting that morning had shown there were incredibly opposing views on the issue and there was no basis to make opinions on the matter when councillors hadn’t read the research, Cr Griff said.

But the only councillors who voted against the motion were Crs Griff and Liz Seckold, which meant it was carried and the workshop will go ahead.

Earlier, the councillors had also debated a motion that wanted council to recognise the role of state forests and the native timber sector in enhancing the health, accessibility and protection of the shire’s forests.

Cr Griff wanted to defer the motion pending a workshop to better inform councillors about the issue, arguing it was not something that should be determined at short notice, nor was it even in the purview of local government.

“I’m really quite amazed the council would consider this is the way we’d do business. It isn’t,” she said.

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She argued there were “completely fanciful” employment figures included in the motion, as it claimed the sector provided 2230 employment opportunities on the NSW South Coast, and thought tourists to the area would be “appalled” by the destruction in the local forests.

Cr Griff also said the nearby Eurobodalla and Shoalhaven shires had passed motions stating their opposition to native forest logging for tourism and other reasons.

Labor’s Cr Helen O’Neill said while the timber industry was viable in NSW, it had to be managed well. She agreed with Cr Griff that councillors needed to investigate further before they passed a broad motion.

But Cr Fitzpatrick said council had passed a similar motion in the past and all this was about was reaffirming council’s support for forestry.

He and councillors Tony Allen, Mitchell Nadin and David Porter voted in favour while the remaining four opposed it, which resulted in the mayor needing to use his casting vote to carry the motion.

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patricia gardiner6:45 pm 25 Feb 24

Whatever happened to council Tree Preservation orders on private property?
Whatever happened to the ‘plant a tree and save the planet’ idea?
Since the fires it’s all about bulldozing trees. Such actions only make matters worse – contributing to climate change -severe weather – more bushfires.
It’s a nonsense to keep destroying that which supports life on earth.

Did any member mention this before the election?
Are the loggers with big bank accounts circling?

Philip in Narooma2:18 pm 25 Feb 24

Private native forestry and subsequent use for plantation timber is to be applauded. As someone who has been involved with farming and production animal science for many years it was alarming to see the, not unexpected, demise of plantation timber enterprises in the 1990’s.

Many investors had been sucked in by the tax benefits and promises of better returns than the share market. Little did they realise that the ‘green bureaucracy’ was just starting to wield its unelected powers. Dreamy images of wildlife and promises of ‘diversity destruction’ were enough to sway city centric politicians. Rather like the dopey decision by NSW Minister for Primary Industries basing the decision to ban the capture of blue groper on emotion and not science, we had a collapse of native forest plantations.

The ‘right to farm’ is steadily being eroded, as it stands if I own land zoned as RU1, RU2 or RU4 and want to perform forestry then strict conditions, both from EPA and Local Land Services, have to be adhered to. Why should any Council be involved.?

More grandstanding by the idiotic south coast Greens. Does anyone wonder where there copy paper comes from now that Reflex (Australian) has closed?

Dr Hein Vandenbergh4:40 pm 26 Feb 24

“The idiotic South Coast Greens.” Tempered language, in any discussion or dispute, is a measure of civility. Clearly, this correspondent, has shown his hand.

Philip in Narooma5:32 pm 26 Feb 24

When you’ve been on a few federal and state committees over 35 years with folk who profess to have ‘conservation views’ or be ‘Greens’ then perhaps you may become a little jaded.

So often they quite brazenly present material that is not correct in any way, except to them. So often they have been caught lying or fabricating material to ‘strengthen their argument’.

The most recent display of this was the Northern Territory EDO and the Tiwi islanders. That actually cost millions before the methods were discovered. After a while any reasonable person becomes skeptical of anything that comes out of their mouths.

Sorry if offends your sensibilties … any comment on the material I presented?

Dr Hein Vandenbergh4:21 pm 27 Feb 24

We are not talking about the NT or Tiwi Islanders. We are talking about our community members. Having ‘been’ on a no. of committees and having become jaded is no excuse for calling informed, well-meaning people idiots. As to comments

Dr Hein Vandenbergh5:29 pm 24 Feb 24

If nothing else, these divisions in BVSC’s voting demonstrate that the proposal is controversial. And we all know what happens when restrictions and oversight are lifted on controversial issues. Commercial greed will dictate a rapid start to a free-for-all. We need to think very carefully about this, especially given the 21st century’s well-justified environmental and climate concerns. As it stands, the proposal reeks of the 1960s – not so surprising given a regional setting intrinsically tending to conservatism, its tentative toe in the cyclical economy notwithstanding.

cannedbeeria2:59 pm 24 Feb 24

““The logging industry is totally sustainable. Trees regrow,” he said.” Really…
1: Yes, trees DO regrow. Not necessarily the original species…
2: Yes, trees DO regrow, but not the habitat that surrounded them before destruction.
3: Yes, trees DO regrow, but what of the fauna that called that tree home? Do they just hang aroing the forest waiting for the threes to regrow to the point they can support the inhabitants?
4: Yes, trees DO regrow, but it takes decades for each tree to reach the level of maturity (and so the ability to absorb carbon) that the destroyed tree did.

Dr Hein Vandenbergh4:21 pm 25 Feb 24

Indeed, trees regrow, but Crs Allen and Fitzpatrick use this simple, semi-truthful language to deceive, and to moronise – yes, a word when dealing with enviro-simpletons – a very complex issue, a complexity indicated by cannedbeeria. And that statement by cannedbeeria is only just the beginning. Wake up, Bega Shire residents – none of this will do anyone any good, let alone in a durable manner. Of course the ills this will cause WILL be durable, permanent even.

Philip in Narooma11:20 am 27 Feb 24

There are three classes of land in SE NSW, encompassing three shire councils. About 30% is National park, 30% is state forest and 30% private land. NSW Forestry is restricted from areas set aside in reserves, rainforests, wetlands etc. This leaves about 50% of state forest in SE NSW available for logging. About 3% of that is logged per year.

The income to NSW Forestry Corp. from native forest logging offsets the cost of managing NSW State forests. NSW National Parks budget is in excess of $580million per year. In most years the income from native forest logging is slightly in excess of the costs.

Native Forestry logging has been ongoing for the past 140 years and has been steadily refined by ANU trained forestry scientists over that time. Anyone put down in the middle of an area logged 25 years previously and a similar area of National park would not be able to tell the difference, even cannedbeeria.

Apart from cannedbeeria’s errors the one that stands out is point 4. The carbon cycle of a mature tree cut down and used for furniture timber or paper (recycled) and a replacement tree shows almost a parity of emissions. It is fairly simple really.

Finally Hein you state “semi-truthful language to deceive, and to moronise – yes, a word when dealing with enviro-simpletons”. An unfortunate description levelled at the Bega community who agree with the timber industry.

John Perkins6:37 pm 27 Feb 24

The NSW Forestry Corporation is running at a multi-million dollar loss, subsidised by NSW taxpayers and it still fails to operate lawfully. We have the intolerable situation where the public is not only forced to subsidise the destruction of our native forests by propping up the loss-making operations of the NSW Forestry Corporation, we are also now paying this rogue corporations fines. This needs to end.

The NSW Forestry Corporation is behaving like an outlaw organisation, not a government agency entrusted with managing our native forests.




Philip in Narooma1:56 pm 28 Feb 24

Unfortunately John Perkins you are not up to date.

The 2023 Forestry Annual Report is here Forestry Corporation of New South Wales Annual Report 2022-23

It shows the hardwood division within Forestry Corp. were running at a small loss in FY20 and FY21. This was due to the NSW fires. However that has reversed, notwithstanding the wet weather in 2022, Forestry Corp is operating at a profit, and has returned a dividend to the State Government for 2023.

Not only does Forestry Corp manage 1.8 million hectares of State Forest, its charter requires it to provide facilities for recreation, maintain roads and provide emergency services. All within their revenue stream and receiving a mere $31million Community Service Obligation grant, compared to National Parks and Wildlife Service grant of $580million.

As to the EPA. As I said above, all forestry whether on private or public lands has to obey rules as laid out by NSW EPA and Local Land Services. A great many of the EPA staff might be termed ‘environmental zealots’ instantly listening to the complaints from anti-timber industry folks.

If they broadened their remit to look at the effects of pollution on the marine and freshwater environments of NSW, rather than nit-picking an industry that has been sustainably active in NSW for over 140 years, regional NSW may be a lot better off

Trish Hellier5:28 pm 28 Feb 24

Well said Phillip, what short memories some people have. Look at the wonder job these hard working workers did during the 20/21 bushfires. The loss of this industry will not just affect the immediate worker there will be a huge flow on affect. How many more industries will be lost due to the “green ideology”. I commend Bega Council looking “outside the box”. You don’t have to go to far to realise the south coast is heavily wooded with State Forrest and National Parks. TRISH HELLIER

John Perkins9:41 am 29 Feb 24

There’d be a lot more significant convictions and fines in store for the NSW Forestry Corporation if the forest conservation campaign movement could take the NSW Forestry Corporation to Court. Under the legislation surrounding NSW Regional Forests Agreements, third party appeal rights were removed. There is currently no channels for the forest conservation campaign movement to take independent legal action to ensure Regional Forests Agreements are being complied with.

The Regional Forests Agreements also give the native forest logging industry a special exemption from complying with federal environmental laws – the Environment Protection, Conservation and Biodiversity Act (EPBC Act)

The native forests logging industry is given this special exemption  – even mining and development projects need to comply with national environmental standards – but not the native forest logging industry.

The Regional Forest Agreements were based on outdated data and not reviewed in a timely fashion. It means critical information such as the discovery of new populations of threatened species, or substantial declines in numbers, did not lead to changes in logging practices. Essentially the Regional Forest Agreements have given the green light to the NSW Forestry Corporation to destroy the essential habitat of forest dependent native species, including tree hollow dependent native species.

John Perkins10:19 am 29 Feb 24

The logging of native forests increases the severity and risk of bushfires and likely had a significant effect on Australia’s unprecedented bushfires.

There are a number of ways Australia’s past and contemporary logging regimes have made forests more flammable and fire prone.

At ground level, logging leaves logging debris (Also described as slash) up to 100 tonnes per hectare which increases the fuel loads. Logging also changes the forest composition, creating extensive, dense areas of young, similar-aged trees, and fewer wet elements like tree ferns.

Logging takes away big trees and allows wind and sunlight into the system, as a consequence these areas become far drier, and because you have removed the big old tall trees, lots of young saplings come up and they’re very flammable.








Philip in Narooma6:38 pm 29 Feb 24

John Perkins
You have made many posts over many subjects over the years and you have yet to understand the difference between the gold standard of science … the necessity for a study to be replicable, and a simple hypothesis.

Perhaps you may care to look at the studies of Bowman, Bradstock amongst others as counters to Lindenmayer and Zylstra. This is critical to an overall picture of forestry sceince.

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