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Environmental watchdog to step up surveillance after forest talks fail

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“The EPA has been working with FCNSW to ensure these controls are implemented and effective,” it said. “The EPA has increased its regulatory presence on the ground at all stages of logging operations and is working closely with community, industry, Aboriginal and environment groups, concerned about the impact of logging on the environment, their communities and their regional economies.”

Forestry Corp said harvesting would resume on the South Coast and Eden “with additional environmental safeguards and restates our commitment to ecologically sustainable forest management which ensures good environmental outcomes”.

“We believe the additional environmental safeguards we have proposed provide the right balance which Forestry Corporation is required to strike between environmental considerations,” Daniel Tuan, general manager for Hardwood Forests said. “[These include] 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.”

Debate over whether logging should resume in areas that suffered large-scale forest losses during the Black Summer fires has been simmering for months. Environmental groups say the Berejiklian government should have exercised so-called force majeure provisions, for unforseeable circumstances, to get out of contracts to large companies such as Boral.

The Herald contacted the Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who is responsible for forestry, and Matt Kean, the Environment Minister, for comment.

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Justin Field, the independent NSW MP and South Coast resident, said the breakdown in talks reflected a “gross act of bad faith by Forestry Corporation and John Barilaro”.

“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 future logging by the NSW Natural Resources Commission, Mr Field said.

“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.

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