FoE Kuranda urges Newman: drop LNP plans to log Kuranda State Forest!

Friends of the Earth Kuranda has written an open letter to the Queensland Premier expressing FoEK’s strong opposition to a resumption of commercial logging in the State Forests of this region. The letter also seeks clarification about reports, which appear to be confirmed last year, that the Newman Government plans to reopen Kuranda State Forest to native forest logging.

FoE’s letter follows correspondence between Kuranda Conservation‘s Jax Bergesen and the Queensland Director General of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

let-to-Jax-re-logging-1.pngWe strongly oppose commercial native forest logging in Kuranda State Forest. It is adjacent to the World Heritage Wet Tropics – and like dumping dredge spoil adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, it’s a proposal that puts World Heritage values at risk. We urge the Premier to drop the idea.

So far, the Government has provided very little detail about its logging plans. No economic case has been made to justify them. It’s unclear where logging would occur, how much timber would be extracted or whether its value would cover the very significant costs associated with adequate environmental assessment and monitoring.

FoE Kuranda’s letter seeks clarification and conveys our deep skepticism that the proposal makes any economic sense. It seems to have more basis in a rushed pre-election promise to selected friends of the LNP than in the principles of good governance. After the 2013 de-amalgamation fiasco, many Kuranda residents are getting heartily fed-up with our interests being treated as disposable bargaining chips.

let-to-Jax-re-logging-2-150x150.pngWhat we do know – according to the previous correspondence with Kuranda Conservation – is the government doesn’t intend to log rainforests. That’s good – but not reassuring. Although no thorough wildlife assessment has been undertaken, forests such as Kuranda State Forest are rich in biodiversity and likely to contain numerpus threatened species. The tall stands of what the government describes as “ecotone forests” also have high conservation value; many of these plant communities are very rare.

We understand there’s no plan to commence logging until 2018.

Two State elections are due before then and if necessary FoEK intends to make this an election issue.

The text of FoE Kuranda’s letter to Premier Newman follows:

_______________________________

Friends of the Earth Kuranda

Premier Campbell Newman
PO Box 15185
City East
Queensland 4002

Dear Premier

We write concerning the proposal to recommence native forest logging in public forests in our region – specifically in Kuranda State Forest.

We are familiar with correspondence on this matter between local Kuranda resident Jax Bergesen and the Director-General of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (see attached).

This letter is to state our very strong opposition to this proposal and seek further information.

Kuranda State Forest is not within the World Heritage area, but it is adjacent – and the entire Wet Tropics is an interconnected ecosystem that should not be further eroded at the edges.

The DG states that logging will not occur in rainforests.

However, the wet schlerophyll fringes of rainforest – presumably the main target of any proposed logging – are themselves highly bio-diverse. In total area, this relatively narrow rim is much smaller than the rainforests of this region. Numerous species of high conservation significance – including rare and endangered vertebrates – are restricted to these forests or heavily dependent on them. We are not, therefore, reassured in any way by his assurance.

It is impossible to be more specific in critiquing the Government’s proposal, because the DG’s letter contained no detailed information about what is proposed. We ask for clarification on the following:

  1. What processes will the government undertake to identify areas deemed suitable for logging?
  2. What will be the opportunities for meaningful public participation in these processes?
  3. What is the total volume of timber involved in this proposal?
  4. Which specific areas are proposed for logging – and when?
  5. Where is the business case for re-opening native forest logging in the State Forests of FNQ? 
  6. Is there a business case – or any other economical modeling re this proposal, and if so,, may we please see it? 
  7. What is the proposed usage of the timber to be extracted?
  8. Will you ensure that appropriate government agencies conduct a full and public inventory of threatened species in or adjacent to forests proposed for logging, prior to any final decision on this proposal?
  9. Do you undertake that your Government will ensure that threatened species and other significant conservation values are fully protected?

We’d appreciate answers to these questions and will be pleased to publicize your reply widely in this region, to help inform (and hopefully re-assure) the community.

We do, however, believe that in the absence of any rationally-argued case for re-commencing public lands native forest logging in this region – and given the plethora of ecological and heritage concerns – the Government would be very well advised to drop the proposal at this stage.

If not, a large anti-logging campaign in this region is likely, which may well attract international support.

Yours sincerely

Pat Daly
President
Friends of the Earth Kuranda


UPDATE – 4th September 2014

FoE Kuranda has received a reply from Premier Newman – see below. It is not a reply, merely an acknowledgment.

The letter is personally signed by the Premier, but includes the puzzling remark “a formal response, if appropriate, will be provided in due course” (emphasis added).

Are there really circumstances which would make it inappropriate for the Government to reply to FoE Kuranda’s letter?

If you share our view that there aren’t, you may wish to write to the Premier yourself and voice your own concerns about this issue.

Feel free to contact us to share the text of any letters you do send – and replies you may receive. We’ll update this website if and when we receive an response to our queries.

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