NSW govt faces fresh assault over native forest logging

A disturbing video describing confused koalas walking in circles and trying to climb stumps of logged trees is the centrepiece of a new push to end the destruction of NSW native forests.

The Australia Institute is leading the campaign against the Labor government's continued support for native forest logging at the same time it's promising a sprawling new park to protect the endangered marsupial.

The left-leaning think tank released the video on Tuesday, alongside an open letter signed by more than 100 political leaders, academics, environment and climate experts.

Pine Creek State Forest in northern NSW is prime koala habitat, but is subject to ongoing logging.

The letter calls on the government to immediately gazette the boundaries of the Great Koala National Park to rule out any further destruction of their habitat.

It also says the government must get out of the business of logging native forests and abandon plans to cash in on carbon credits associated with NSW forests.

Businessman and activist Geoff Cousins is supporting the campaign and says the government's position, as the owner of the Forestry Corporation, is untenable and ministers know that.

"The government  keeps referring to the Forestry Corporation, but Forestry Corporation is simply the NSW government under another name."

Environmentalist Geoff Cousins
Geoff Cousins is pressuring the NSW government to end the destruction of native forests.

He recently met with Environment Minister Penny Sharpe and Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty, and says both "accept that the status quo cannot continue".

He also says the Forestry Corporation's two biggest customers - Pentarch Holdings and Brambles - recently contacted him.

"I didn't call them, they called me."

The executive director of Pentarch is Stephen Dadd, who is also the chair of the Australian Forest Products Association.

Mr Cousins says both companies must understand that buying Forestry Corporation products resulting from the destruction of koala habitat is like supporting multinational companies that pay sweatshop workers a pittance.

"You can't maintain your good reputation if you knowingly buy product from those sorts of sources."

Both companies expressed the desire for an orderly transition away from native forest logging to avoid the "shambles" Victoria saw when the government abruptly shut its business down, years earlier than expected, he said

"The chair of the Forest Products Association, he said 'yeah the last thing we want is what happened in Victoria'. I said well you're going to get it unless you take a lead."

AAP sought comment from Mr Dadd, Brambles, and the Forestry Corporation but did not receive a response.

Australian Forest Products Association CEO Diana Hallam said the group reached out to Mr Cousins after recent media reports about his views on native forests.

"As Australia’s peak forest products industry advocacy body, we appreciate hearing people’s views and concerns," she said. 

"Those who campaign against Australia’s native forestry sector are campaigning for worse environmental and climate outcomes. Our objective is to make sure more people understand that."

As Forestry Corporation continues to log koala habitat, the government says it's pressing ahead with the complicated work of setting up the Great Koala National Park in the state's north.

"The process includes thorough environmental, economic, social and Aboriginal Cultural Heritage assessments which were part of the election commitment," a spokesperson has told AAP.

"Part of that work will include an assessment of potential carbon benefits."

Australia Institute senior fellow Stephen Long says there are a thousand good reasons to protect koalas and forest biodiversity.

"Their value does not lie in their capacity to legitimise big polluters to continue to pollute."

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