Yurangalo Inc

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Letters To The Editor

Letter to the editor - 5th April 2010

Yurammie Forest Reflections

About 4.00am on the morning of Saturday 3rd of March a Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) was heard calling in Compartment 964, Yurammie State Forest, near to Wyndham. Not such a big deal you might think, even though it is a threatened species and as such has logging exclusions associated with it. What makes it noteworthy is that this record comes from an area of forest where recent pre-logging surveys by Forests NSW (FNSW) failed to locate any of these birds, even though they are targeted in such surveys. The failure to find this (and potentially other) species is a clear example of how the standard survey effort is inadequate.

The Easter break has provided time to reflect on events that have occurred in the current conflict that exists between FNSW and the local community over the proposed logging of the Yurammie Special Prescription Zone near Wyndham.

Our expectations last September when we contacted FNSW in good faith were that they would provide information about their intentions to log and begin to fashion the consultative process with the community. After all Forests Minister Ian MacDonald had said in October 2009 this would happen.

What we got by October was reassurance, a promise to ‘contact you to formulate a consultative strategy you are comfortable with’ and silence for a period of 4 months!

In February, when we next heard from FNSW, we expected to begin the design of the long awaited consultation process.

What we got was a change in compartments to be logged, misrepresentation about FNSW’s previous contact with Yurangalo and no consultation process, if consultation genuinely means ‘to take counsel together, deliberate, confer, to ask advice of…’ (Shorter Oxford Dictionary)

What we still hoped for in March was genuine consultation.

What we got was a triumph of disorganisation with short, ineffectual public notice and a poor attendance at a FNSW ‘information session’, especially when you remember the 400 people who had 2 weeks earlier attended a rally about the issue. The material presented at the meeting didn’t ease anyone’s fears and raised many more.

We have another meeting coming up soon with Mr Ian Barnes, Regional Forester.

Perhaps this time there will be true consultation instead of a vague promise to note ‘reasonable’ (whatever that means) concerns and take them into account when making harvesting plans.

Should this meeting between FNSW and Yurangalo Inc show no evidence of FNSW having taken account of concerns aired at the ‘information session’ of the 24th March, it will demonstrate clearly how little capacity or will FNSW has for taking on board the concerns of local communities.

There has been no satisfactory response to the issues raised about the science during this dispute. If they don’t have the data or can’t answer the questions they should say so and then do the work to remedy the situation.

The arrogance of Ian MacDonald’s office in this matter has been staggering. Despite contacting the minister through his Forests Advisor Jason Stewart 2 months ago and at least twice since then, there has been absolute silence from them-they can’t even bother to reply to correspondence. They certainly haven’t been willing to ensure that the Minister’s written promises are kept. I have been told that to expect any response other than this to a Ministerial letter is ‘childishly naive’ because such promises aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Sadly, perhaps this is so.

Australians are often criticised for being politically uninvolved. But it’s no wonder people often prefer to be indifferent rather than participate in their own governance, when what you get from governments is disinterest in local issues (unless they are likely to cause embarrassment) coupled with short sighted single-mindedness from the bureaucracies they administer.

There is a chance here for the NSW Labor government to lift its game. I wonder if you are up to it, Kristina Keneally.

Bob Harris
Yurangalo Inc
Wyndham

 

 

Letter to the editor - 29th March 2010

Our Forests … in Safe Hands?

Someone said that the ‘information session’ with Forests New South Wales (FNSW) in Wyndham about the Yurammie Special Prescription Zone (YSPZ) was designed to ‘allay our fears.’

After being there last Wednesday afternoon I came away more concerned than ever.

Below are a few of the issues of the day (apart from the fact that because of the way it was organised, there wasn’t nearly enough time to ask all the questions).

The ‘water person’ carefully showed us how (according to his modelling) logging should release more water to the catchment annually in the short term. What he didn’t address was the critical community concern over the effect on water supply in dry times. FNSW hasn’t actually done the studies to deal with this issue.

The gaping holes in the science and the survey effectiveness are alarming and here are just a couple of examples.

Whilst the soils officer agreed that the underground fungi that form partnerships with plants are ‘incredibly important to eucalypts,’ he said, ‘ there are no biodiversity surveys on soils.’ He was not aware of any studies of the effects of logging on such fungi, ‘although you’ll have to talk to an expert’, he said. How do you keep track of such basic matters as soil and its life without surveys?

When questioned about birds, the ecologist said that they had found about 26 kinds. As a property owner adjoining the YSPZ I have a list of about 80 different kinds gathered over a period of years. Even with the best will in the world a ‘snapshot’ pre-logging survey doesn’t give you anything like the real picture. If mammals or birds are rare or hard to find a survey effort like the one described may well miss them. In addition to that, FNSW are supposed to be delivering to the public Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management. Surely you need to know the ongoing fate of the common as well as the threatened species as there are plenty of examples where a common species has become a ‘threatened’ one.

There is little to no ecological research related specifically to the YSPZ and very little long term information about its biodiversity.

The Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) requires FNSW to apply the precautionary principle. In Principle 4 it states FNSW must ‘…apply precautionary principles for prevention of environmental degradation.’

In the absence of information about environmental matters related to the YSPZ, I see little precaution in the logging proposal for the YSPZ in its current form. My fears are far from allayed.

 

Bob Harris
Yurangalo Inc
Wyndham