A row has broken out over the decision to resume logging in South Coast forests that were affected by last summer's bushfires.
Forestry Corporation of NSW announced on Tuesday it will resume timber harvesting on the South Coast and Eden within weeks "with additional environmental safeguards".
That's despite warnings from the Environment Protection Authority that a resumption of logging without special conditions to minimise environmental impacts in burnt forests would likely breach NSW forestry laws.
Last year the EPA issued a series of stop-work orders on the Forestry Corporation for operations in burnt forests.
Independent NSW MLC and South Coast resident Justin Field described the plans to resume logging as "a gross act of bad faith by Forestry Corporation and (deputy premier) John Barilaro as Forestry Minister".
"Forestry Corporation has been guilty of systemic breaches of logging rules on the South Coast which led to stop work orders and numerous investigations and an agreement to seek an independent assessment of what rules should apply in these burnt areas by the NSW Natural Resources Commission," Mr Field said in a statement on Thursday.
"Restarting logging now will all but destroy what little social licence this industry has left on the South Coast and will ultimately destroy the resource they rely on," he said.
The corporation's general manager for hardwood forests Daniel Tuan said Forestry Corporation had been working with the EPA for the last 15 months to negotiate site-specific operating conditions for each harvesting operation in bushfire-affected coastal forests on a case-by-case basis.
However, he said progress had been too slow to avert the imminent closure of the timber industry on the South Coast and Eden and the loss of jobs.
"We believe the additional environmental safeguards we have proposed provide the right balance which Forestry Corporation is required to strike between environmental considerations, the need to support the regional communities reliant on timber industry jobs and meet its supply commitments with small family businesses and key local mills," Mr Tuan said.
Forestry Corporation plans to resume renewable timber harvesting on the South Coast and Eden within weeks.
It says it will meet the conditions of the government's rules for native forest harvesting with protections for wildlife, soil and water to enable sustainable timber to be produced and the trees regrown.
''We will put in place robust operating procedures to manage compliance with the additional safeguards and share the outcomes," Mr Tuan said.
"Australian native forests naturally regrow after fires and that regeneration is well underway in many areas."
Australian Associated Press
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