After a long battle, NRE has finally coughed up their last detailed audit report on compliance with the Code of Forest Practice (CFP – an environmental code that’s a bit of a joke in itself). I can see why they were reluctant to release this report, even though they were obliged to release all the internal CFP audit reports and supporting documents for East Gippsland.
Under the current arrangements, the NRE’s checks to see if the CFP is being followed are pretty minimal. Often people do the checking who come from the same area being audited (ie. mates). Only a small sample of coupes are audited from each area.
NRE claims that they checked 14 of the 105 coupes logged in 1998/99 in East Gippsland. Recently, NRE provided CRoEG with a list of nearly 190 coupes that were logged in that same year; an extra 85 coupes! Their management of records is clearly hopeless. How can they claim to be checking the loggers when they can’t even keep track of the areas logged?!
Let’s accept then, that NRE did log only 105 coupes. They should have checked 20 coupes to complete the audit. Despite all the NRE bullshit about ‘ecologically sustainable forestry’, they really find doing things like checking on the loggers’ environmental practices a bit of a strain on their budget. East Gippsland foresters ran whining to head office saying it was going to be too difficult to check the full 20 coupes. So they were allowed to check only 14 – the only region given permission to do fewer coupes than required.
NRE is responsible for both CFP compliance and to check that the private overseer, East Gippsland Logging, meets its legal obligations. It’s outrageous that NRE has allowed the East Gippsland managers to do less checking than required, particularly since daily monitoring of CFP compliance has effectively been handed over to a private logging company with a vested interest in export woodchipping!
The report confirms environmentalists’ worst fears – that key conservation areas inside or next to logged forest are not being properly protected. ALL five coupes bordering Special Protection Zones (SPZ) were found to have incorrect boundary marking and four of the five had trees felled, bulldozer intrusions or other CFP breaches. This is an alarming failure to protect these areas, yet NRE did nothing other than issue a recommendation that boundary marking should be done better in future!
This review of boundary marking procedures was supposed to be completed by the end of June 2000. At last inquiry, it still hadn’t been produced. Clearly, protecting conservation areas from logging has a very low priority with our environment department.
Just remember when NRE announces its next ‘profit’ from plundering our forests, a large part of this so called profit comes from not doing the work it’s supposed to.