One week before Clarence Valley votes on a motion to ban native forestry in the NSW North-East, Councillors attended a field trip “showcasing the total sustainable forest management and harvesting process.”
Organised by the local community, Councillors were taken through the various stages of planning and harvesting within an approved area of the State Forest.
As part of the field trip, Dean Caton and Dean Kearney from NSW Forest Corporation provided Councillors with access to detailed planning “that provides exacting detail in real-time.”
The forest industry has had a long history in North East NSW and is considered the engine room for the local hardwood timber industry.
Timber NSW CEO Maree McCaskill said there were “constant questions and detailed explanations” to ensure that the Councillors “were familiar with the detail required for a harvesting operation.”
Speaking to the Wood Central Publisher, Ms McCaskill said the Councillors “also went through requirements to ensure that feed, hollow-bearing, and any classified “old growth” trees remain protected.”
According to Ms McCaskill, the trip was led by Donna Layton, Kristy Hackett of Marshall Notaras Hardwoods, Lorna Greensill and Cherie Baynham of Greensill Bros, Kirsty Parker of M&M Timbers and Andrew Favelle of Abbey Timber in Sydney.
It follows community backlash after the council pushed to ban native forest harvesting in the region.
In June, council members attempted to bring a motion to support a ban on native forestry after a block of local governments passed a motion at the NSW Local Government Association conference last year.
The council’s Biodiversity Advisory Committee raised concerns with Mayor Ian Tiley, acknowledging that “preservation of native forests has a strong ecological footprint.”
At a packed June meeting, Councillor Debrah Novak moved a council resolution to delay the council debate until October, acknowledging that a decision required consultation with the community.
The field trip was a key recommendation from a 36-page Timber NSW submission tabled to the council before the vote.
It alleges the Biodiversity Advisory Committee failed to meet the standards of the Council’s Charter on multiple fronts.
In particular, “the lack of input by other relevant Council committees (Economic Development & Tourism Advisory Committee, Community & Cultural Advisory Committee, Climate Change Advisory Committee) into the report and on the issue of native forestry in the region.”
In August, Wood Central revealed that the council had received 3,400 submissions, with the decision drawing “an unprecedented response” from the local community.
More than 100 residents came to Clarence Valley council offices to deliver submissions.
Speaking to local radio, Donna Layton, a resident of South Grafton, was amazed by the local turnout.
“We did not expect this many people; we expected more for the October meeting,” Ms Layton said.
The council will debate the motion next Tuesday, the 24th of October, 2023.
The meeting will be held at 3pm at the Clarence Valley Council Maclean chambers at 50 River Street, Maclean, with Ms McCaskill stating, “No doubt there will be a full house in the public gallery.”