A letter to NSW Opposition Leader, Luke Foley, from Timber Communities Australia has reflected the dismay of NSW north coast timber communities at the flawed policy process around his surprise announcement of a new mega-style national park for koala protection.
This was done in a vacuum – with zero consultation of affected communities.
Jobs will be lost. TCA members want a return to commonsense.
“TCA wrote to Mr Foley and will write to all candidates in the affected region in the upcoming election to remind them it’s perfectly possible to manage forests in a sustainable way and protect native animal habitat at the same time,” said TCA spokesman Trevor Sargeant. “We don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Under tight regulations timber harvesting in NSW is excluded from areas where koalas are living. The timber industry has a Koala Code of Practice which TCA supports which ensures a comprehensive approach for the effective management of koalas and their habitat.
People who live and work in communities like Wauchope, Kyogle and Grafton enjoy and want healthy koala communities. They also want strong and sustainable communities where people have jobs and a means to keep a roof over their head and to raise their families. “People in regions need access to an honest means to earn their living with jobs in a sustainable industry like timber. This is a basic human right and it is hoped Mr Foley will realise the policy goes too far. It needs to be revisited, “said Mr Sargeant.
The surprise announcement comes when the need for sustainable natural materials has never been greater. This will only rise in future decades. Timber is a premier renewable material vital for a lower carbon emissions society. “Forest industry policies can be win-win with environmental and other positive outcomes. It doesn’t always have to be ‘one’ or ‘the other’”, he said.
The triple bottom line of good environment, economic and social/community outcomes is too often portrayed as a tug of war between environment OR economic outcomes. This is yesterday’s mantra.
“People are tired of oversimplification. It is entirely possible to have positive social AND environmental AND economic outcomes under truly sustainable policies”, Mr Sargeant said. This is what TCA members want from policy makers. “It’s time for a change in the debate away from the tired old mantra of “forest wars” to genuine acceptance of the triple bottom line.”
Mr Foley is encouraged to meet affected local communities and pay the respect of genuine consultation. There are clearly gaps in the advice behind this flawed decision. TCA members look forward to meeting with local candidates to ensure they get the full picture.
“There is a great deal of wisdom in these regional communities and it is most concerning when these commonsense voices are overlooked,” said Mr Sargeant.
Did you know
- Australia is a world leader in sustainable and environmentally responsible production of timber products.
- 120,000 people are directly employed in forestry and forest product industries across Australia, mostly in rural and regional areas.
- Adding on indirect jobs on the value chain brings the national total to at least 300,000 jobs.