ENVIRONMENT groups have banded together to criticise the level of logging occurring in New South Wales.
The Nature Conservation Council, The Wilderness Society, National Parks Association, the Northern Inland Council for the Environment and the North Coast Environment Council have issued a joint warning that iconic and endangered species are being threatened by land clearing.
In a joint press release, the groups said the NSW annual report on native vegetation released by the Office of Environment and Heritage this month showed 2009/10 was the "worst year on record for clearing of native bushland".
The Wilderness Society campaigns manager Belinda Fairbrother said the report showed that in 2009/10 an area equating to 138,400 football fields was cleared for crops, forestry or infrastructure.
"This is higher than any other year since records commenced in 1988 and shows the NSW Government has failed in its promises to restrain land clearing, resulting in rapid and accelerating degradation of wildlife habitat and water catchments," she said.
North Coast Environment Council president Susie Russell said the report made a sad end to the International Year of Forests.
"The area cleared for forestry in 2009/10 was almost five times greater than it was in 1988/89," she said.
"It reveals a massive increase in the rate and intensity of logging in NSW, which will be causing untold damage to the extraordinary high diversity forests of north-east NSW."
Nature Conservation Council chief executive officer Pepe Clarke said land clearing was recognised as the single greatest threat to wildlife in Australia.
"It causes the death of birds and animals, the extinction of species, leads to the poisoning of soils from salinity and makes a major contribution to global warming," he said.