Right now, it seems like last summer’s devastating bushfires happened years and years ago. 2020 has been rife with new devastation; the fires were just the beginning of the war we’ve all been facing this year. But, even in the current state of play—we need to remember those fires.
The toxic blanket of sick, orange smoke and the apocalyptic sunsets that haunted us for months. The horrific footage of towering flames that flooded our feeds, the stinging anxiety on days marked “catastrophic” by the NSW RFS, the thousands of homes lost, the billions of animals that perished, the koalas, the endangered species, the regional towns that lost everything, the heroes that stood on the front line, especially those that lost their lives. We need to remember the warning heeded for far worse fire seasons to come.
In spite of the environmental impact and the fair warning—it seems the current NSW Government has forgotten about last summer’s fires: logging has recommenced in full force in NSW. Right now, across the state burnt forests are being harvested—which, as numerous ecological studies suggest, prevents any natural regeneration of those areas and even makes those areas more susceptible to fire for decades to come. And then, tragically, the Government has allowed the logging of unburnt forests to continue.
While sheer environmental devastation is on the table—there's still more at stake. In northern NSW, a Gumbaynggirr Embassy camp has been formed in the Nambucca State Forest in response to logging that’s taking place on sites that hold significant cultural value to the local Gumbaynggirr People.
Here, there have been concerns about the lack of transparency from the NSW Forestry Corporation—the State-owned corporation that manages around two million hectares of forest for the sole purpose of timber production. It's a State business that currently runs at a loss—rather than turning big profits, according to this 2016 report (it's aptly titled, Money Doesn't Grow On Trees).
“The NSW Forestry Corporation has been given permission to log 140,000 hectares of coastal forests from Taree to Grafton, which they refer to as "intensive harvesting zones", Sandy Greenwood, Gumbaynggirr custodian and spokesperson said in a statement. It's a move that sounds so painfully similar to Rio Tinto's beyond-devasting actions in Western Australia last week.
As well as being environmentally and culturally significant, the Nambucca State Forest is also home to a dwindling population of koalas.
“If we don't act now our deeply significant cultural heritage will be desecrated, our beautiful old growth trees will be logged, rare flora will become extinct and our koalas and endangered species will literally have nowhere else to go.”
Basically, the Gumabynggirr people are calling on the NSW Government to establish a new cultural heritage area that will safeguard cultural sites and endangered species, protect water catchments and boost local jobs in land management and tourism.
So how can you help?
- Support the Gumbaynggirr Embassy through their Go Fund Me, here
- The Nature Conservation Council (NCC) is one of the most active voices on logging right now. Donate to their ending deforestation campaign, sign their petitions and learn more about their work here.
- The National Parks Association of NSW is also campaigning to end excessive logging. You can donate and read up on law changes here.
- The Stand Up For Nature Alliance was formed in response to the Baird government watering down protection for nature in NSW by removing checks on land clearing. It currently includes organisations like Sydney Wildlife, IFAW, WWF, The Wilderness Society, The National Parks Association of NSW and the NCC. You can donate and read more here.
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Image credit: The Gumbaynggirr Embassy