01/07/2013 - 14:59

EPA gives tick to SW forestry plan

01/07/2013 - 14:59

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EPA gives tick to SW forestry plan

The state environmental regulator has given its nod to a 10-year plan for managing the South West, which sets aside nearly two-thirds of the region’s forests to be protected.

The Environmental Protection Authority today recommended the proposed Forest Management Plan 2014-2023 for approval by Environment Minister Albert Jacob, saying it meets its environmental objectives.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel said the plan would leave 38 per cent of the South West’s forests for a variety of uses, including timber harvesting.

“The FMP provides direction on managing state forests and timber reserves, including timber harvesting activities and the regeneration of forests,” Dr Vogel said.

Dr Vogel said the plan would set the level of timber harvesting for the next 10 years based on a scientifically-calculated yield basis.

“This calculation is not only rigorous and based on sophisticated modelling but was also reviewed by an independent expert panel,” he said.

“The sustained yield is only calculated once allowances have been made to maintain biodiversity.

“In other words, the yield is calculated once all areas which are proposed to be protected or managed for conservation purposes have been excluded.”

The plan also proposes to include 4,020 hectares of the Whicher Scarp as a national park, changes to forest management guidelines to improve cockatoo habitat retention and refining animal habitat zones

Dr Vogel said the EPA has also requested the Department of Environment and Conservation, as well as the Conservation Commission, to release any incident reports or any breaches of compliance, to improve transparency in the community.

The recommendation comes after the state’s Auditor-General, Colin Murphy, tabled a report in Parliament last week panning the state government’s transparency and accountability in forestry management.

Mr Murphy’s report showed both the DEC and Forest Products Commission could improve their respective processes to ensure public and industry confidence.

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