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Climate change doesn't stop rampant forests chop in NSW

Margo: Webdiarist Susie Russell is the Greens candidates for the deputy PM's seat of Lyne. I published her recent speech to the Wingham Rotary Club here.

The approval of Gunns’ pulp mill is firmly on the national agenda. As we have seen, Gunns refused to participate in the independent assessment process and effectively brought it to an end. The Tasmanian Government then passed legislation giving a special approval. Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull rubber-stamped the deal and Peter Garrett looked on saying ‘Me Too’.

But what has got lost in the hoo-ha is that there has been absolutely NO assessment of the impact of the mill on Tasmania’s forests. The mill is expected to process some 7-12 million tonnes of wood annually. More than 80% of this wood will come from native forests. This is likely to continue as long as there is a tree to fell, because it is availably much more cheaply that plantation wood.

It is more than 10 years since the Federal and State Governments signed off on the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement (RFA). The RFA is the justification for any and every forest activity that has been proposed since. 

RFAs exist in other states as well. In NSW there are RFAs for Northern NSW, Southern NSW and Eden. All had clauses in them that said they were to be reviewed within 5 years. In every case this clause has been ignored. And you can bet your bottom dollar that when a ‘review’ finally happens it won’t be allowed to look at anything to upset the logging applecart. Like mining, logging is a sacred Australian industry.  

But the science gets ever clearer. Existing old forests play a major role in locking up carbon. Old forests also perform the role of an underground reservoir. Their roots transport and hold water in the soils. More water flows into streams that come through old forests than plantations or regrowth. Forests also hold the banks of the creek together, stop erosion and siltation of our waterways, keep the temperature of the water cool and provide the best drinking water.

In northern NSW local communities are getting increasingly anxious about the effects of logging on their catchments. Recently a court refused to convict several people who had taken direct action to protect their catchment. Now the residents of another valley are preparing for action.

This media release from the Five Day Creek Catchment Protection Group, published below, tells part of the story. There will be more to come as they have already found that despite the minimal rules that govern logging, particularly on private land, there is really no-one checking to make sure they get adhered to. The State Government pours millions into propping up the timber industry but puts almost nothing into compliance. It would not be unreasonable to assume that the general attitude of government is ‘get away with what you can, chances are no-one will ever find out’.  

In the case of private property you have the ultimate Catch 22. You can’t get the Government to send an inspector to check the logging unless you have evidence of a breach of permit. You can only obtain the permit via FOI. Then of course you may only be able to obtain evidence of a breach by trespass. It’s a slow process. Meanwhile the trees fall, the damage is done and the community and the environment as always are left to pay the long-term costs.


Upper Five Day Creek Headwater Protection Group

Logging in Water Catchment Causes Uproar!
Known for its pristine water, lush rainforest vegetation and rare fauna and flora, Upper Five Day Creek in NSW is a vital feeder for the rivers and towns downstream.

Located due west of Nambucca Heads, the land in this area adjoins the New England National Park and is a mixture of private freehold land and perpetual crown leases. The land is classified as State Protected Land due to its slopes and ecological importance. It is largely uninhabited, except for a Wilderness Health Retreat and a few residents with urgent concerns for the welfare of the mountains and waterways. 

A recent purchase of approximately 1,500 acres in the area by a timber company has caused no small stir among the locals. After receiving a permit to log from the Dept of Environment and Climate Change, logging operations commenced in September this year. This was despite numerous appeals to the authorities and protests from residents and environmentalists.

Local resident Dale Davison became alarmed last week when she went to the Five Day Creek on her property. “I was very concerned when I saw our permanently crystal clear water was dirty and grey,” said Dale. “Another neighbour visited and told me it is worse upstream. I then realised this was due to the logging about 10 km’s upstream in the hills.” 

Steven White, farmer and mobile sawmill owner, resides on the family farm that adjoins the property being logged. “In the 30 years I have lived here, I have never seen the damage that is happening now.” said Steven. “Rockpools are already silting up after only three weeks, and riparian areas have been leveled. What was a riparian forest three weeks ago is now a mass of tree crowns, bear earth and lonely stripped young eucalypts.”

The Five Day Creek area is an example as to why legislation needs to change on the logging of private land. “I have a sawmill myself, but see myself an environmental timber man.” said Steven White, “I have been shy of any new laws to do with logging on private land, but the way that Five Day Creek is being logged now is shocking. A timber company just buys in, and logs the guts out of the country and then moves on. We are left with the bare earth, ruined creeks and the irreplaceable loss of clean water. The hills are now open to fires, cattle intrusions and weed infestation which kills off the remaining hope of recovery.”

The area is a paradise for bush walkers and naturalists. A visitor to the area last weekend was Jeffrey Leenhouwers from Nelson, New Zealand. “I do not understand how governments can allow logging in such fragile environments.” said Jeff. “I go tramping all over the world and this is as good as it gets.”

“The economic benefits of preserving the pristine nature of Five Day Creek are huge.” said businessman and retreat owner Michael O’Neill. “We have people come from all over Australia to de-stress and get healthy in a remote and untouched environment. We are employing local people and believe eco tourism ventures are the way of the future for the Upper Five Day Creek area.”

“The logging of fragile catchment areas seem to fly in the face of the massive worldwide effort to turn back the tide on poor environmental practices of the past.” said Michael. “I have never seen myself as an environmental activist, but when confronted with the destruction of such important areas as the water catchment, I have had to rethink my position and responsibility.”

Matthew Pickering from the Upper Five Day Creek Headwater Protection Group laments that as each day passes without intervention, the pristine nature of the area will only be something he can tell his daughter about in stories. “At the pace the bulldozers and chainsaws are going, it will not be long before it is all gone.” said Matthew. “It appears that there are serious breaches in the conditions of the permit. A fine and prosecution of the offenders will not undo the damage. It is a terrible, terrible shame.”

Residents are hopeful that government action will be taken over alleged breaches in the permits conditions. “We have equally good timber on our property, but refuse to be lured by the current high prices.” said Steven White. “At the end of the day you have to live with yourself and sleep at night. What we do affects our children and all future generations of Australians.”

For comment contact:

Michael O’Neill, Misty Mountain Health Retreat, Ph (02)6567 8118, 0427678118

Steve White 65678223


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Just who are the big 2 representing on pulp?

See Parties out of step on pulp mill:

LESS than a quarter of Australians support plans to build a wood pulp mill near Launceston in Tasmania's north.

Only 24 per cent approve of the billion-dollar proposal, according to a poll of 552 people done last week by Roy Morgan Research.

Both major parties support the controversial mill but the poll suggests they are out of step with 46 per cent of voters.

Despite widespread coverage of the issue, 30 per cent could not say whether they supported it or not.

A further 52 per cent thought there should be an inquiry into the way the Tasmanian Government handled the initial assessment process...

Morer on 5 Day Creek citizens action for law enforcement

Update Wed 7th November

Five Day Creek Protest:  Halt Climate Change.  Stop Logging “Prescribed Streams”

Yesterday morning at 6.25 am some two hours west of Kempsey in the hinterland a number of locals from Five Day Creek Protection Association blocked Five Day Creek Rd to obstruct the path of the logging contractors hired by Lynmarn who had not heeded a stop work notice issued by Decc on Oct 30th.  The group are not anti logging and want legal and sustainable practice to be applied to this operation. 

The blockade was attended by about nineteen people from the Upper five Day Creek Community who, after years of negotiation with government agencies, and public appeals for assistance, decided to take peaceful action to stop further destruction of the waterway.  When the loggers arrived there was heated exchange between the group and three carloads of loggers.  Negotiations commenced between the two groups. 

The police arrived at around ten am and later two more car loads of police arrived and threatened the whole group of protestors with criminal charges.  Although some people in the group wanted to take further action it was decided to remove the blockade from the road.  

Some of the group spent the day talking with the Superintendent of Police from Port Macquarie who promised to get clarification of why the DECC did not enforce the “STOP WORK “ notice issued on the 30th October and to call a meeting between the Five Day Creek Head of the River Protection Assn, Lynmarn;s contractors and DECC officials. 

The trashing of Five Day Creek and the lack of will by DECC to enforce Stop work notice and stop the breaches to the code of ethics shows the failure of the law to protect the head of the river and the pristine areas around the feeder streams that regenerate the waters.  This includes the failure of the Threatened Species act to protect vanishing species.  There is also the criminalisation of anyone who might cause obstruction to this vandalism of five Day Creek vital feeder of the Macleay waterway. This relegates the concerns of the protestors to the level of law breaking. 

Hopefully the police will question whether the timber being transported between Five Day Creek and Lowanna Mill for logging has been legally and sustainable logged under the Australian standards.  Maybe the company would like to apologise to the residents for running trucks between 6am and 1am and Lymarn will offer some restitution for the damage caused by such poor practice. 

This morning we heard that the Police Superintendant from Port Macquarie regretfully informed the ‘Five Day Creek Protection Association that DECC had declined the invitation to meet with them.  This is an arrogant move on the part of the Department and invites further poor relations among people from a town where poverty is at record levels. 

The Association is now in consultation over the next steps to be taken to get some reply from DECC. 

State Minister Carmel Tebutt weighed into the issue this morning on NSW ABC radio and it was also reported on local community radio 2NVR and regional abc and was fully reported on Prime.

 Further information and photos: Michael O’Neill  0427 678 118

5 Day Creek gets physical


Five Day Creek blockade as Stop Work order is ignored

Local people have been forced to blockade a local road this morning to stop a logging operation further damaging the Five Day Creek, a vital feeder to the Macleay Water Supply 90km west of Kempsey.  

The NSW Government has failed to enforce a Stop Work order issued last week to the contractors of Lymarn Holdings. The order was based on complaints by the local catchment protection group and investigated by the Department of Environment and Climate Change, but logging has continued despite alleged breaches of stream-side protection measures and clear pollution of Five Day Creek waters.

The blockade has been called by members of the Upper Five Day Creek Headwater Protection Group Inc. Michael O’Neill, spokesperson for the Group said, “We support legal and sustainable logging but the failure of the NSW government has forced us to step in to stop further destruction of Five Day Creek”

“In the face of what we believe to be ongoing illegal activities by this company and their contractors we have no other choice but to take this action today” said Mr O’Neill.  

“The protection of the waterways for future generations is a matter of national concern to many voters”

John Carty, Greens candidate for Cowper, has called for the NSW government to enforce their Stop Work order as soon as possible because water supply preservation has become a national issue for the community.

Further information and photos: Michael O’Neill 02 6567 8118, 0427 678 118

More on 5 day creek

Hi. I got this from the Bellingen Greens' Caroline Joseph. Her area is part of Cowper, the safe national party seat Labor now has its eye on due to work choices:

As the Greens' John Carty's campaign for Cowper reaches its peak we witness firsthand the failure by the State ALP government to stop the acts of vandalism at Five Day Creek, two hours west of Kempsey.  Five Day Creek is a “Prescribed Stream” and a vital, main contributor to the Macleay River System.  Lynemarne a private company based in Glebe and its contractors have performed numerous clear breaches of the Code of Ethics, Native Vegetation Act and violations to the rainforest and old growth.  The Department of Environment and Climate Change is hiding behind the weak protection laws of the Threatened Species Act

The Threatened species Act has already been publicly reported to have failed to protect our rapidly disappearing species.   We must ask why there is no protection in law under the law for these precious trees which act as large umbrellas to cool the land and regenerate seed banks of rain. We also hear daily horror stories from the Murray Darling, the need for desalination plants in Sydney and the empty reservoirs of North East Queensland and recognise the need to protect the water supply. 

The violation of this pristine forest is causing devastation that can never be repaired for all time.  Tomorrow the Head of the River Protection Group and friends will meet and decide on what action must be taken to protect the water supply from the mountains to the sea.  Ordinary people have to risk criminal charges to make the government understand that we will not accept law, which favours private profit making companies like Lynemarne and will act to protect our waterways. 

Today John and Kerry released a petition for a Bill of Rights and John is looking forward to meeting and talking with people on the topic and collecting signatures for the petition to hold a referendum on this vital issue. 

Further to the North of our electorate we find daily denials by the coalition and the ALP that they won’t dam the Clarence.  Like the Nuclear Power Stations methinks they protest too much.  A Green Vote is a vote for the safety of the Clarence and all of our waterways.  We are inviting boatees on the Clarence to sail along with the Greens candidates up the Clarence and support them and our Senate candidate Kerry who we hope will be up for a visit.  A Green Vote is a vote for the safety of all of our Rivers and Waterways from the people who have always given us the right message on water conservation.

More from 5 Day Creek

From the 5 Day creek mob:

We managed to get a question asked in the house yesterday.  The contractors are logging between 6am and 1am and the people are meeting on Tues 30th.  If the DEC have not acted to stop the operation the people will blockade.  This is a recurring nightmare and ordinary people are being forced into being criminalised in order to protect their water supply whilst whole departments fail to do the job of protecting the waterways and the precious trees which protect the streams...

What an irony as we end Water Week that we are confronted by the devastation carried out by illegal logging of “Five Day Creek” one and half hours west of Kempsey CHA 20/10 P7.  This photograph (see here) clearly evidences the violation of the law protecting Prescribed Streams. Where is the protection for our precious water supply from private Sydney companies like Lynemarn whose vision is clouded by flashing dollar signs? Our Country is in urgent need of a National Water strategy that enshrines the creeks which feed the heads of the rivers offering farmers recompense to leave untouched those trees vital to the continuation of a healthy water supply.  This plan must include research and development of alternative building materials and lessen our lust for timber. 

The logging of Five Day Creek includes the logging of a precluded rainforest, yet again revealing arrogant breaches against the now outdated, unworkable Regional Forestry Agreement laws. Community fear has deepened over the crisis caused by failing water supplies since the RFA was passed into law in 1998.  Why is the Department of Conservation, a toothless tiger, waiting to make a decision on the criminal trashing of this tributary which is vital to the supply water to every community down the Macleay River from the mountains to the sea?  Many people have not forgotten that in the late nineties the Government was talking about trucking in water to be stored in temporary swimming pools for Kempsey.  In these remote areas high up in the mountains far from public gaze, the big trees closest to the streams are living seedbanks, big umbrellas cooling and protecting the earth.  Think for a moment if you will that 20 metres of buffer between the loggers and the creek is a small safety zone.  These big trees actually generate rain for the catchment. The trees not only protect the streams they are often the only safe place for endangered species seeking refuge from drought and declining habitat. 

What is the EPA doing to protect the rare Elseyer turtle found only in the Bellinger and the Macleay River which needs large volumes of clean water?  I call on the Minister for Primary Industries Ian Mac Donald to halt the illegal logging at Five Day Creek without delay.  We, the voters have watched the major parties give way to the almighty dollar for short term economic gain resulting in grievous long term damage to our rivers.  We will vote for the people who will continue to fight for the protection of our waterways which are the very lifeblood of our communities. 

Caroline Joseph, Bellingen

Its all about saving energy & reducing emissions.

New modelling released last month by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics estimates that saving energy by using more efficient technology in industry and households will deliver more than half of its projected total greenhouse cuts by 2050. Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change identified changes in energy use in buildings as the biggest potential for mitigation of emissions. The Property Council recently joined forces with the Australian Conservation Foundation to look more closely at this for Australia. The analysis by the Centre for International Economics found that the building sector as a whole could cut emissions by up to 35 per cent by 2050, all using proven technologies, while still allowing for expected growth in building construction.

The biggest savings for households would come from better refrigeration and water heating, while commercial buildings save the most from smarter heating and cooling and more energy-efficient equipment, all delivering long-run cost savings.

Global consultant Mckinsey & Co said that common and garden variety insulation topped the list as the most cost-effective way to cut emissions.

  • The two hybrid cars available in Australia are easy to drive and use much less fuel than comparable non-hybrids.
  • They’re expensive, so you’ll have to drive them for many years before you recover the difference.
  • Hybrid cars conserve petrol resources and emit much less air pollution and greenhouse gases.

A few people may be satisfied by the argument that if everyone made those small efforts it would create the desired change. However I fear that most people know only too well that the tiny contribution of their own efforts will immediately be overwhelmed by the indifferent high-carbon behaviour of their neighbour. And who can blame them?

So I say let's chuck out the tired old phrases from a strategy that is clearly not working. Let's start from first principles.

People want to make things better. No one feels motivated to do something that simply makes things less bad. They need a positive vision.

People want personal gain. That gain need not be financial: it could be an improvement in their health, happiness or status.

People never want to live with less. But people are prepared to live differently, and they are happy to make the change if they are persuaded that this will bring other benefits.

Put them all together and you get a very different message. And, to further reject the authoritarian tones of instructions to do this or that, I will write it as a personal testimony:

"I have embraced a lighter lifestyle because it is the smart, cool, intelligent and healthy way to live. I want to live in the present and the real world, not be tied to an outdated and dangerous 20th-century way of living. I live this way because I love it, because it makes me feel good and because it is healthy and gives me freedom.

We do not need high tech solutions to reduce our GHG emissions or reduce our use of energy. We can make great savings by embracing current technology.  If the government used a carrot and stick approach to move us into these energy and money saving technologies we would be well on our way to reaching the required targets.

Oceans may become saturated unable to absorb more C02.

University of East Anglia researchers gauged CO2 absorption through more than 90,000 measurements from merchant ships equipped with automatic instruments.

Results of their 10-year study in the North Atlantic show CO2 uptake halved between the mid-90s and 2000 to 2005.

Scientists believe global warming might get worse if the oceans soak up less of the greenhouse gas.

Researchers said the findings, published in a paper for the Journal of Geophysical Research, were surprising and worrying because there were grounds for believing that, in time, the ocean might become saturated with our emissions...........

"But they say it is a tremendous surprise and very worrying because there were grounds for believing that in time the ocean might become 'saturated' with our emissions - unable to soak up any more."

He said that would "leave all our emissions to warm the atmosphere".

Of all the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, only half of it stays there; the rest goes into carbon sinks.

There are two major natural carbon sinks: the oceans and the land "biosphere". They are equivalent in size, each absorbing a quarter of all CO2 emissions.

With our oceans unable to soak up any more C02 we may have to rely more and more on forests to reduce our C02 levels. It is time we put a value on our forests for their place in the carbon cycle.  The land biosphere may be the only carbon sink we have.

Oceans Must, matter of fact…

…because the warmer water gets, the less readily it absorbs CO2. Just above freezing is best, both for absorption and retention. Ask any brewmeister.

Bunya pine plantations for chop: petition to save

A petition online to save threatened plantations of bunya pine is at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/SaveourBunyaplantations?e

A worthy cause in my view.

Mr Gore keeps on being right.

The worst thing about Mr. Gore, from the conservative point of view, is that he keeps being right. In 1992, George H. W. Bush mocked him as the “ozone man,” but three years later the scientists who discovered the threat to the ozone layer won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 2002 he warned that if we invaded Iraq, “the resulting chaos could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than we presently face from Saddam.” And so it has proved.

But Gore hatred is more than personal. When National Review decided to name its anti-environmental blog Planet Gore, it was trying to discredit the message as well as the messenger. For the truth Mr. Gore has been telling about how human activities are changing the climate isn’t just inconvenient. For conservatives, it’s deeply threatening.

Consider the policy implications of taking climate change seriously.

“We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals,” said F.D.R. “We know now that it is bad economics.” These words apply perfectly to climate change. It’s in the interest of most people (and especially their descendants) that somebody do something to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, but each individual would like that somebody to be somebody else. Leave it up to the free market, and in a few generations Florida will be underwater.

The solution to such conflicts between self-interest and the common good is to provide individuals with an incentive to do the right thing. In this case, people have to be given a reason to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, either by requiring that they pay a tax on emissions or by requiring that they buy emission permits, which has pretty much the same effects as an emissions tax. We know that such policies work: the U.S. “cap and trade” system of emission permits on sulfur dioxide has been highly successful at reducing acid rain.

Climate change is, however, harder to deal with than acid rain, because the causes are global. The sulfuric acid in America’s lakes mainly comes from coal burned in U.S. power plants, but the carbon dioxide in America’s air comes from coal and oil burned around the planet — and a ton of coal burned in China has the same effect on the future climate as a ton of coal burned here. So dealing with climate change not only requires new taxes or their equivalent; it also requires international negotiations in which the United States will have to give as well as get.

That's right, on climate change we will have to give. Australia as well as the US is reluctant to change. We really need to think about the cost of the delaying tactics that could happen if we elect John Howard for another term. It is time to make the hard decisions. The first one is to  remove John  Howard. Like Bush, Howard has a long record of being wrong.

The forces against our forests

See Beder, S. 2001, ‘Global spin,’ (University of Wollongong Faculty of
Arts Papers,) at http://ro.uow.edu.au/artspapers/50/:

"This chapter examines the way that corporations have used their financial resources and power to counter the gains made by environmentalists, to reshape public opinion and to persuade politicians against increased environmental regulation. Corporate activism, ignited in the 1970s and rejuventated in the 1990s, has enabled a corporate agenda to dominate most debates about the state of the environment and what should be done about it. This situation poses grave dangers to the ability of democratic societies to respond to environmental threats."

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