VOICES FOR THE EARTH: We pay to trash forests

ACCORDING to Forestry Corporation's 2014-2015 annual report: "The Hardwood Forests Division (HFD) returned a positive earnings for the first time in over 10 years. This is a landmark result."

It certainly is a landmark result, the first profit "in over 10 years"? This is only the 15th year that the HFD has operated under the Integrated Forests Operations Approval, so "over ten years" could mean they have never made a profit, or at best in only four of those years.

Suffice to say the report admits the HFD made a profit of $1.98 million before interest and taxes, and we don't yet know how much of that profit will be reduced after interest and taxes are paid.

Either way it's an insignificant percentage of the total profit figure of $52 million, achieved courtesy of Forest Corporation's plantations division. However, one wonders, given the universal abhorrence at the environmental destruction, and killing of native animals that results from native forest logging, why the government would persevere with that destructive activity.

The annual report goes on to explain that: "This achievement has been the culmination of a concerted strategic effort over several years and the turnaround driven by increased efficiency, reduced costs and improved accountability".

So how did they manage to turn a profit, and who or what were the losers?

Forests Corporation's Sustainability Supplement explains where savings were made.

The number of flora surveys dropped from 40 in 2013-2014 to just one last year, and fauna surveys dropped from 4793 in 2011-12, to only 1991 two years later. So the job of identifying threatened flora and fauna prior to logging operations was slashed, netting a saving of $219,000. Expenditure on weed control dropped by $55,084, and pest animal control by $70,207.

A massive $2,549,000 was saved through cuts to post-harvest compliance auditing - so much for "improved accountability".

Native forests are being trashed, biodiversity decimated, and unique native animals obliterated, and we the taxpayers are paying for it to happen.

Does any of this make sense?

John Edwards, Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition

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