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Logging industry exemption from Australia’s main environment protection law must end

Conservationists are calling on the federal Government to accept the recommendation to end effective exemption for logging under Regional Forest Agreements from Australia’s principal environment protection law.

Spokesperson for the South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA) Harriett Swift said that the effective exemption had been tried and failed.

Currently, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Protection (EPBC) Act does not apply to any logging carried out under a Regional Forest Agreement.

“We have known for years that wildlife and ecosystems have suffered as a result and this is now supported by the Government’s own expert review,” she said.

“With 80% of South Coast forest available for logging burnt in last summer’s bushfires, we simply can’t afford to continue taking the huge environmental risks involved in native forest logging.”

Ms Swift said that Professor Graeme Samuel’s final report of the review of the EPBC Act, released late last week, made it clear that the current system must end.

“The statutory review of the EPBC Act is required every 10 years; this one has made it clear that laws need fundamental reform and urgent action is needed to protect wildlife.

“An interim report, released last year did not include the recommendation to end the exemption.

“Last summer’s bushfires were a loud wake up call that native forest logging was already living on borrowed time and this should be the last straw for it.”

“The federal government should seize this moment to complete the transition from native forestry to a plantation based industry.

“Winners would be jobs, climate and tourism, as well as the wildlife,” she said.

2 February 2021