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Renewing Regional Forest Agreements "a huge mistake"

Federal and NSW Governments slipped out an extraordinary statement late on Friday evening announcing that Regional Forest Agreements would be renewed for a further 20 years.

"We must wonder what they have to hide, making such a major announcement in such a furtive way," said Deputy Convener of the South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA), Harriett Swift.

"It is obvious that the haste in renewing the RFAs, months and in some cases years before they expire is driven by the woodchipping industry, whose Wood Supply Agreement expires on 31 December 2018 ."

"Allied Natural Wood Exports (ANWE), the owner of the Eden chipmill is the biggest single customer for native forest logs in NSW and it is clearly calling the shots."

"The Governments are making a huge mistake and are defying public opinion."

"The hasty renewal treats the forests as a "magic pudding" for woodchips, when they could be valuable carbon stores, homes for wildlife and protectors of soil and waterways".

Ms Swift said: "Both Governments are well aware that new industry funded research shows almost 70 percent of Australians[1] oppose native forest logging. The same study shows that 68% of South Coast residents oppose it.

"We understand that around 85% of those who made submissions on the RFA renewal were opposed to native forest logging."

"Eden style logging is now notorious as the most intensive in NSW and Eden is leading the race to the bottom in the rest of the State.

Ms Swift said that the first RFA for Eden and Southern had seen record woodchip exports and massive losses to NSW taxpayers, propped up only by political will and public subsidies.

"The industry has become one of the most highly mechanised, costing about $5million of investment to create a single job."

"While we are dismayed that both Governments have shown their contempt for the forests and the public by renewing these disastrous RFAs, we don"t expect them to run their full course.

"It is likely that the forests will not be able to supply the wood promised and that prospective customers for these low value products will adopt higher standards and buy their raw materials from plantations."

1 December 2018

Harriett Swift 0414908997


South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA)
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