Date: 23rd January 2023
Last year we wrote to you as Minister for forests, expressing dismay at the lack of site management between logging events at Southgate State Forest. From that day, 25 years ago, when the last log truck and ‘skidder’ left the site, no forest management had occurred, resulting in protected riparian areas becoming choked by invasive weeds, horrific creek and track erosion, signs of feral animals everywhere, and apparently illegal fence line clearing occurring without anyone being aware.
Your response to the lack of weed control was as follows: “Control of weeds is an issue across land tenures and the most effective management of weeds comes when there is a coordinated approach between all landowners and managers. Forestry Corporation takes a coordinated and proactive approach to managing weeds across the landscape in collaboration with other land managers including councils and Local Land Services”.
What you failed to explain was that not a single cent is made available to deal with Lantana, an invasive species that now occupies every corner of most coastal state forests. In fact, we now learn that Forestry Corporation’s (FC) “coordinated and proactive approach to managing weeds” applies only to priority emergent weeds like Tropical Soda Apple (Solanum viarum) and Giant Devil’s Fig (Solanum chrysotrichum), none of which are a problem in the majority of state forests. The fact that Lantana invasion is a major contributor to the devastating Bell Miner Associated Dieback that is threatening eucalypt forests everywhere along the east coast, is an even greater indictment of this lack of concern.
The northern Rivers Region is an internationally recognised biodiversity hotspot (see Appendix A), and as a result, conservationists across this region are supporting the now widespread calls for an end to Native Forest Logging in the state’s public forests.