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Forest Industries Taskforce Criticizes the Protest Campaign at Tarkeeth Timber Plantations

The NSW Forest Industries Taskforce has criticized a campaign by the Greens and a small group of local activists to prevent harvesting of a timber plantation near Bellingen.

‘Those involved are portraying the area as pristine native forest, and claiming harvested timber will be used for pallets and pulp wood’ said Taskforce Chairman Rick Colless, Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources and Regional Planning.

‘This is completely untrue. The area in question is former cleared agricultural land, which was planted with a timber crop in the 1960s and 1970s. The plantation is now mature and ready for harvest. Harvesting operations are planned in accordance with the Plantation and Reforestation Code, which contains numerous requirements to protect environmental values including soil and waterways. In addition, Forestry Corporation has identified additional protection measures, including the retention of a corridor through the plantation to allow wildlife to continue moving freely across the landscape.

‘An Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Officer from Forestry Corporation has surveyed the site to ensure any cultural heritage items are identified and protected and the Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council has endorsed this survey.

‘Timber from the plantation will be supplied to several sawmills in the Bellingen Valley, Nambucca and Grafton, where it will be processed into a range of products that may include power poles, timber flooring and decking, pallets, fencing, roof battens and plywood. There is currently no pulpwood market in this area.

‘Claims that harvesting has occurred on steep slopes in breach of Code have been investigated by an Authorised Officer from the Department of Industry Plantation Assessment Unit, who have responsibility for regulation of operations in timber plantations. No evidence was found to support these claims.

‘It is hypocritical that the green movement has campaigned long and hard against the harvesting of native forests, despite its sustainability and contribution towards reducing greenhouse gases, whilst suggesting that forestry should be confined to plantation areas. They are now trying to prevent the harvesting of these planted areas.

‘I find it very distressing to have recently learned that partially concealed steel spikes have been placed into forest road surfaces with the apparent intent of causing damage to vehicles. This criminal activity has the potential to cause death or serious injury to persons going about their lawful employment, or to other forest users. The NSW Forest Industries Taskforce condemns this illegal action’.

The NSW Forest Industries Taskforce comprises industry leaders and forestry professionals who are committed to ensuring that the sustainable forest industry in New South Wales remains vibrant and internationally competitive over the longer term.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Tarkeeth plantation is encouraged to view documentation on the FCNSW web site at http://www.forestrycorporation.com.au/management/our-forests/case-study-tarkeeth.

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