BARWON MP Kevin Humphries has called for “a wide range of views” on a report into the management of local forests to avoid the debate being hijacked by environmental groups.
The National Resources Commission’s (NRC) draft report on cypress management in the Brigalow and Nandewar State Conservation Areas (SCAs) was finally released this week, but Mr Humphries believes logging opportunities will be at risk if submissions from all sides of the debate aren’t received.
“At the moment, the only voice in this debate is the voice that is calling for the complete devastation of an industry that has the potential to provide long-term social, economic and environmental benefits for many communities in North West NSW,” Mr Humphries said.
“It would be very unfortunate if a blatant scare campaign being run by a small number of conservationists and the Greens were to jeopardise a sensible outcome for the region.
“While there is no government more committed to improving environmental outcomes than the NSW Liberals and Nationals, we also understand it is important that good environmental outcomes are achieved alongside good social and economic outcomes for our regional communities.”
Mr Humphries said the NRC review clearly stated there was an excellent opportunity to achieve both environmental and production outcomes through improved land management.
“At the moment large tracts of the SCAs that have been locked up have seen a previously strong biodiversity become a monoculture,” he said.
“On top of this, roughly one-third of the SCAs consist of dense white cypress forest, which, if not managed properly, has detrimental environmental outcomes.
“The independent draft report presents a very strong argument that sustainable harvesting of small parts of these SCAs would greatly improve biodiversity outcomes.”
He even invited Nature Conservation Council of NSW chief executive Pepe Clarke to visit the SCAs with him to see first-hand “the folly of his ill-informed campaign”.
Former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown, who was in the region yesterday, accused the NRC of seeing a valuable ecosystem and “seeing dollars”, saying any logging, however selective, was “death by a thousand cuts” for the SCAs.
Anyone wanting to make a submission on the draft report can visit www.nrc.nsw.gov.au
Submissions close on August 1.