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Wednesday, February 13, 2013


GANG-GANG COCKATOOS PLACED AT RISK BY NSW ENVIRONMENT MINISTER:  Threatened Species ignored under Forestry Act for Private Lands
Conservationists have waited five and a half years to see the final Code of Practice (COP) for forestry operations on private lands.  What has it revealed? 
The Gang-gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum) is NSW listed as Vulnerable under the Threatened Species Act, but doesn’t rate a mention on the forestry COP for threatened  species in Southern NSW.  
Painting of Gang-gang Cockatoos
by internationally renowned wildlife artist
Humphrey Price-Jones
donated by the artist to Landcare
“No protective prescription exists for this species. It is not the only species either completely overlooked or left with inadequate     protections under this flawed code.  “The omission of the Gang-gang demonstrates either incompetence within the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) or worse” says Mark Selmes, Vice President of the Goulburn Field Naturalist’s Society, and long time opponent of PNF firewood logging in Mount Rae Forest - a known breeding area for this species of cockatoo.
“NSW Environment Minister, Ms Robyn Parker, is aware of the many flaws within the Forestry Code but refuses to act. The interim forestry law was a classic example of policy making on the run, but after five and a half years you’d expect the final COP could list correctly the known threatened species of our southern forests and woodlands. Past attempts to cover up the many inadequacies within this act are now exposed.”
 “How many of the over 225,000 hectares of logging approvals already issued have been in threatened species habitat? How many for nothing better than commercial scale firewood? How can such approvals  achieve the objectives of the Code in ”maintaining non-wood values at or above target levels considered necessary by society to prevent environmental harm and provide environmental services for the common good”. If such a product came from overseas we’d ban it. In NSW it comes with the Environment Minister’s approval.”
“The OEH has been aware of these issues for years but refuses to act. Mount Rae Forest sits atop the Great Dividing Range between Taralga and Crookwell and is known to contain eleven threatened species and over 250 more common plants and animals. This area was previously targeted for protection by the OEH’s ecologists who opposed the same firewood logging operation stating it would “negatively impact on the forests and threatened species” of this area. Five properties underwent surveys by the Conservation Partners Unit of OEH recognising the high conservation values of this area. Two landholders entered legally covenanted Conservation Agreements with the NSW Government, one signed by Ms Parker. These approvals take about a year and require detailed surveys. Meanwhile approvals for firewood logging on adjoining lands take on average 28 days and require no environmental surveys.
When hypocritical “streamlined” approvals allow the director of a firewood business to deny the presence of existing threatened species and gain support by forestry networks who state they will use this legislation to access  over a million ha’s of native forests in the region to supply firewood markets in Sydney and Canberra, then you know the OEH has become just another politicised agency selling out to vested interests. These logging plans are automatically granted bio-certification by Ms Parker, so now the OEH apparently recognises firewood logging with heavy machinery as improving  and enhancing  biodiversity.  Well this IS the same Environment Minister who once said logging protects koalas.
The Gang-gang cockatoo is the faunal emblem of the ACT where it is not yet considered threatened.  Many Gang-gangs breed in remnants of forest and woodland in the Southern Highlands and Tablelands before wintering in the lower altitude of Canberra. The people of Canberra can console themselves with the thought that while less of these charismatic cockatoos will be coming down to Canberra this winter, more firewood and wood smoke will be. Burning threatened species homes to warm theirs?  All thanks to the NSW Environment Minister. 


·         PNF COP  for Southern NSW
              Appendix: listed species ecological prescriptions p.16
·         Budget Estimate 2012 – Supplementary QONs page 23 of 54. Questions from the Hon. C. Faehrmann MLC  specifically questions 69 -77 on Mount Rae Forest.

·         For more information on Mount Rae forest go to

·         For a detailed public submission on flaws in the PNF COP as exemplified by the Mount Rae Forest case see:
Native Vegetation Regulation Submission No. 306 Mr Mark Selmes.
·     The below are quotes from  forestry newsletters which support the use of the OEH Private Native Forest Act for commercial firewood logging :
          Southern Tablelands Farm Forestry Network Newsletter Autumn 2009:
Forests for Bio-Energy Markets and Resources for Firewood in South East Australia...Comments from  a STFFN Perspective :
“The Southern Tablelands has 1.2 million hectares of private native forest (PNF), which if managed properly, could yield an estimated 800,000 tonnes of firewood per annum.   However 95% of this PNF is unmanaged, and most PNF owners do not do not realise the potential of the resource...”
“STFFN has been assisting some landholders to obtain a PVP to allow for harvesting of their PNF. Despite all this, governments appear to be reluctant to accept that firewood can be a legitimate greenhouse gas friendly heating source. The ACT government has actively tried to stop wood heating... and some local governments have refused development consent for sustainable harvesting of PNF, despite the landholder having a legal and legitimate PVP .*
*  This refers to Mount Rae Forest. Upper Lachlan Shire Councillors had voted against this operation (largely on the advice of NSW Government scientists . The need for council consent for forestry operations has now  been removed under the new State Template LEP and commercial firewood logging is happening in Mount Rae Forest.

Southern Tablelands Farm Forestry Network Newsletter
“The Native forest types of the Southern Tablelands rarely produce reasonable quantities of sawlog grade trees. In fact most of the wood in our forests is firewood grade. Therefore commercial harvesting will require access to the firewood industry... the challenge lies in coordinating a private industry and ensuring consistent supply. “
 Options for Growing Firewood.
1.       Managing existing stands of native timber: There is more than 1.5 million hectares of existing native forest     
occurring on private lands in the Southern Tablelands. Much of this area of land is accessible for small scale firewood harvesting operations. Under New State government legislative reforms landholders will be able to conduct commercial firewood operations...”


Denis Wilson said...

I am still having trouble with the Comments function.
Martin has emailed some comments which he tried to post.

"The firewood industry is a real worry, especially when they start talking about "persuading landholders that they have a valuable resource". I would suggest "pressuring for access to the timber" is more accurate than persuading.

"At least the material stops short of requiring each load of logs to be accompanied by a tooled up member of the Shooters Party or the Game Council checking for trophy goats!

"I am surprised that the Mt Rae area only caters for 250 species of animals and plants. I'd expect a days birding in good forest would return about 60 bird species and with several visits through a year get close to 100 species. Similarly the ANPS walks cumulate to about 150 species of vascular plants after a couple of visits and I am sure this could be improved upon. Add in (say) 30 species of fungi, 15 each of reptiles and mammals (both conservative I would suggest) and we are already over 300. Then we have insects. Perhaps 2-300 species? Anyone for mosses and ferns?"

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Martin
No doubt you are correct about the under-counting of "species".
Mark's problem is if he cannot persuade the Forestry people to count the Gang-gangs, how is he going to persuade them to count Bush Flies?