Forestry Bill doomed to fail­ure

Australian Forests and Timber - - Tca Profile -

The In­sti­tute of Foresters of Aus­tralia has joined the cho­rus of con­cerns from all sec­tors of the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity with a scathing as­sess­ment of the NSW Gov­ern­ment’s Draft Na­tive Forestry Bill 2017.

Rec­om­men­da­tions from an In­de­pen­dent Bio­di­ver­sity Leg­is­la­tion Re­view Panel com­mis­sioned by your Gov­ern­ment have been ig­nored and the ex­po­sure draft of the Bill gave only a week for forestry ex­perts to make com­ment.

“Our mem­bers work across the full spec­trum of forestry from parks and con­ser­va­tion man­age­ment to tim­ber pro­duc­tion and pro­cess­ing as well as re­search and academia and as such we can pro­vide au­thor­i­ta­tive and in­de­pen­dent ad­vice on for­est science and man­age­ment – if we are given the op­por­tu­nity,” said Na­tional Pres­i­dent of the In­sti­tute of Foresters of Aus­tralia Bob Gor­don.

“On this oc­ca­sion, when we were given the time our com­ments were ig­nored and when we should have had the op­por­tu­nity to re­view the draft Bill, our mem­bers were not even con­sulted.

“The In­sti­tute has se­ri­ous con­cerns about the Bill which in­cludes dis­cre­tionary clauses such as “…if the reg­u­la­tory author­ity con­sid­ers…” and “…for any rea­son the reg­u­la­tory author­ity thinks ap­pro­pri­ate…” and terms such as “ma­te­rial”, de­fined only as “not triv­ial”.

“The NSW Gov­ern­ment has stated sup­port for a sus­tain­able na­tive for­est tim­ber in­dus­try and flagged the im­por­tance of a vi­able pri­vate na­tive for­est re­source in the fu­ture of that in­dus­try, but this draft Bill will achieve the ex­act op­po­site by lay­ing red tape upon red tape backed up by thinly veiled threats of puni­tive fines to land­hold­ers.

“We strongly make the point that any leg­is­la­tion cov­er­ing pri­vate na­tive forestry should treat it as a sus­tain­able land use con­tribut­ing to the en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial and eco­nomic well­be­ing of both the ru­ral and broader en­vi­ron­ment and com­mu­nity. The cur­rent draft treats forestry as land clear­ing and the pro­posed penal­ties re­flect this.

“This ap­proach can only lead to fur­ther mis­trust, un­de­sir­able land use prac­tices and the avoid­ance of autho­rised forestry un­der­tak­ings,” Bob said.

■ Bob Gor­don

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