Independent NSW MLC Justin Field has described a leaked Natural Resources Commission report into post fire logging in NSW as 'shocking' and makes clear that business as usual for the native forest logging industry is simply not possible or acceptable in the aftermath of the 2019/20 fires.
"This report tells us what people who lived through the fires instinctively know, that the fires changed everything and business as usual is simply not possible or acceptable," he said.
"There is no fair analysis of this report's findings other than that ongoing logging of native forests is environmentally and economically unsustainable and we need a plan to transition out of native forest logging in NSW.
"At the very least I'm calling for an immediate moratorium on logging in all 'extreme', 'high', and 'medium' risk sites identified in the report given the failure of the NSW Government to address the risk of "serious and irreversible" harm to the environment of continued logging in these areas"
The report, commissioned by the NSW Government in early 2021 was completed in June. The Government has resisted multiple efforts by the NSW Legislative Council to make the report public claiming 'cabinet secrecy'.
On Thursday November 25, The Guardian Australia published leaked extracts of the report.
"It is a slap in the face to the community that the government fought so hard for almost six months, to keep this document, paid for by taxpayers money, secret," he said
"The report called for an urgent response in June, including immediately stopping logging in some areas and putting in place significant additional protections in many others.
"Some of these areas are still being logged today without those additional protections in place, undermining forest and species recovery from the fires."
Mr Field said the report was ignored.
"This is another example, like the Koala wars, of the ongoing fights over natural resource management within the NSW Government, between the Liberals and Nationals, which ends up in a political stalemate and policy inaction," he said.
"The NSW Government commissioned this report to mediate a dispute between Matt Kean and John Barilaro's departments over post fire logging rules and then, either because they didn't like what it said or because it is too hard to deal with, they've just tried to bury it."
He added the report should have been acted on immediately.
"The failure of the Government to respond to this report in a timely fashion is unacceptable given the precarious ecological state of the forests and the ongoing uncertainty being felt across the logging and timber industry," Mr Field said.
"The community and industry deserve to know the truth about the impacts and risks of ongoing logging in our native forests and to be part of the conversation about what should happen next.
"There needs to be an honest conversation with the community about an industry restructure to exit native forest logging and a plan to manage our state forests for ecological recovery, future fire mitigation and resilience."
Mr Field said people should look upon the report as an opportunity to move forward.
"While this report will no doubt be devastating to some, it also presents an opportunity for long-term reform to re imagine our state forests as ecological and recreational reserves for the future," he said.
"The report should be used to unlock the economic opportunity for nature based tourism while managing the forests for their immense carbon potential as well as their intrinsic importance as critical habitat for wildlife increasingly under pressure from compounding climate threats."