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Secret Natural Resources Commission review of native forestry codes must be made public

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.” 

 

REFERENCES 

[1] See page 53, transcript of Budget Estimates hearing (Portfolio Committee No. 7 - Planning and Environment), Tuesday, 1 March 2022. See extract below. 

[3] Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration On Forests And Land Use, November 2021 

[4] See page 73, transcript of Budget Estimates hearing (Portfolio Committee No. 7 - Planning and Environment), Tuesday, 1 March 2022. 

[5] See page 72, transcript of Budget Estimates hearing (Portfolio Committee No. 7 - Planning and Environment), Tuesday, 1 March 2022.

[5] Timber NSW, Private Native Forestry Review, 2021. 

 

EXTRACT 

NSW Legislative Council Portfolio Committee No. 7 - Planning and Environment  

Uncorrected Transcript of Budget Estimates hearing, Tuesday, March 1. 

   

BRYCE WILDE, Executive Director, Natural Resources Commission: The Natural Resources Commission has been engaged to undertake an in-confidence review of the private native forestry codes. We were commissioned by the former planning Minister at the request of the former Deputy Premier with the concurrence of the former environment Minister. 

PENNY SHARPE MLC: Obviously it is in confidence but are you able to give us some ideas about the time lines for that? Or has it been done? 

BRYCE WILDE: We are approaching the end of our review. 

PENNY SHARPE MLC: From there, that then goes back to those—Mr Field, did you want to 

jump in? I am okay for you to. 

JUSTIN FIELD MLC: I am just wondering, Mr Wilde, when was that commissioned? 

BRYCE WILDE: I will have to take that on notice. It was late last year, and we are looking to finalise it in the coming month. 

PENNY SHARPE MLC: The work that has been happening in the department with the EPA and regional New South Wales and LLS feeds into that. That will then go to the Ministers and then there will have to be a sign-off. Is that the way that will work? 

BRYCE WILDE: Yes. 

 

See page 53. https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/transcripts/2870/Transcript%20-%20UNCORRECTED%20-%20PC7%20-%20Environment%20and%20Heritage%20-%202%20March%202022.pdf 

 

 

 

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