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Campaign builds to stop logging vandalism

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Lee Rhiannon 31 Aug 2011

Blog post by Senator Lee Rhiannon

Tanja State Forest on the NSW far south coast is stunning. Dominated by spotted gums and a scattering of yellow and white stringybarks on the ridges and rainforest gullies the beauty is enjoyed by locals and visitors.

As the Australian Greens forest spokesperson I was on the NSW far south coast yesterday to meet with locals about Forests NSW’s plan to log this area.

If Forests NSW sticks to its current plan, 80 per cent of the trees and 90 per cent of the wood taken from Tanja will end up as woodchips.

Here are some photos of Tanja Forest taken by Bega Valley Bushwalkers. They show the beauty of the forest now under threat.

On Monday in the late afternoon sun at the edge of the forest David Shoebridge, Greens NSW MP and state forest spokesperson, and I caught up with about 30 locals. They detailed their desire to protect this forest and their plans to stop the logging.

Despite the public assurances from Forests NSW we were all in no doubt that if the logging goes ahead the loss of biodiversity and habitat will be extreme. Powerful owls, potoroos, gliders, swamp wallabies,  pygmy possums, sooty owl and southern brown bandicoot and many other animals will lose their homes.

The locals we met with are worried about the impact on tourism. Tanja Forest is near Tathra and the logged forest will be visible from that town and from the nearby roads. A scarred landscape certainly does not fit with the “wilderness coast” image promoted by Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson in 2009.

While forest operations employ less than two per cent of the local workforce at our forest meeting there was considerable discussion about how we ensure that no one employed in the forestry industry is out of a job when native forest logging ends.

I say “when” as the native timber industry is on the way out. Woodchipping and logging native forests only continues because of massive public subsidises. The shift is on to plantation timber and any responsible government would be driving the transition.

David and I will be looking at the public subsidies that underwrite the logging of native forests and advocating that this funding source is used for industry restructuring.

Some of the locals who we met with told us that they lived in northern NSW when native forest logging was phased out. They described a number of success stories where loggers had been retrained and were pleased with the new jobs they found with the National Parks and Wildlife Service and other outdoor industries.

Check out the Let Tanja Forest Live website and Facebook page.

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