Conservationists have today slammed a proposal to permit commercial logging in the Brigalow and Nandewar state conservation areas, and called on Premier Baird to intervene to protect the integrity of the state's national park estate.
The Natural Resource Commission, a NSW Government agency, today released a report recommending that logging operations be permitted in the Brigalow and Nandewar state conservation areas, and that the timber be sold to commercial sawmills.
"Opening state conservation areas to commercial logging would be a body blow to the environmental credibility of Premier Baird and Environment Minister Rob Stokes," said Kevin Evans, CEO of the National Parks Association of NSW.
"These conservation reserves provide essential habitat for native wildlife in a highly cleared landscape. Opening these important areas to commercial logging would be environmentally irresponsible and deeply unpopular.
"Premier O'Farrell badly misread public sentiment on hunting in parks. Premier Baird must not repeat this mistake when it comes to commercial logging in our parks," he said.
The Natural Resource Commission report is a response to terms of reference provided by Premier O'Farrell last year, following sustained lobbying by local sawmill owners.
"Premier Baird must move swiftly to distance himself from this outrageous proposal to allow logging in our parks," said Pepe Clarke, CEO of the Nature Conservation Council.
"Commercial logging has no place in the national park estate, and may be unlawful under national parks legislation."
The Natural Resource Commission report identifies the potential for a legal challenge, and recommends amending the Brigalow and Nandewar Community Conservation Area Act 2005 to prevent court action.
"Permitting logging in conservation areas, and changing national parks laws to prevent a legal challenge, will fundamentally compromise the integrity of the national parks system.
"Bowing to radical elements in his government by opening parks to logging would be a permanent stain on the Premier's environmental record."
Kevin Evans, National Parks Association 0457 797 977
Pepe Clarke, Nature Conservation Council 02 9516 1488
The full report is available on the NSW Natural Resources Commission (NRC) website: www.nrc.nsw.gov.au