TWO Greens representatives and local conservationists took to the air over the Far South Coast’s forests on Saturday morning.
Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon and Greens MP David Shoebridge, both responsible the NSW forests portfolio at a state and federal level, flew in a light plane over key sites impacted by logging to get a better understanding of the impact of logging on native forests and collect footage for campaigning purposes.
Mr Shoebridge as Greens NSW Forestry and Heritage spokesperson while in the area also visited a traditional Aboriginal fish trap at Mystery Bay that a local elder is seeking heritage protection for.
The flyover inspection covered both pristine wilderness areas in Wadbilliga National Park to areas impacted on by logging around Eden and in the Mogo State Forest, as well as the chip mill owned by Japanese company Nippon Paper and associated wood chip piles.
Both Greens representatives said how they noticed logging operations differed with some leaving a lot of trees behind, while other operations particularly in more remote locations were much more extensive leaving hardly any trees behind and encroaching right onto gullies.
Directly after the flight Senator Rhiannon and Mr Shoebridge met with local forest campaigners from South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA), who were having their annual planning meeting at Moruya.
They visited at a critical time for the native forest campaign in the region with continued rumours that the Eden chip mill is set to close.
Mr Shoebridge and Senator Rhiannon are currently working on a transition plan for the forest industry which they will consult on with locals during their visit.
“Today the federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has turned his back on the Tarkine wilderness in favour of the mining industry and he continues to ignore the devastation of the stunning South East forests,” Ms Rhiannon said.
“Minister Burke must work to end the environmental vandalism that has been afflicted on the South East forests for too long and, with local MP Mike Kelly, develop a transition plan to secure a more certain future for local timber industry workers.”
Mr Shoebridge said the flight was part of an essential audit of the damage being done to native forests in the South East.
“It's what the state government should be undertaking but constantly fails to do,” he said.
South East Forest Exports (SEFE) general manager Peter Mitchell however said logging and the chip mill had a future, with another ship due on Friday to load 50,000 tonnes of chips.
He questioned the conservationists’ abilities to assess logging operations and the impact given they could be various stages of recovery.