Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

NSW red gum logging defies Federal environment law

By Lindsay Hesketh - posted Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The river red gum wetland forests along the Murray River provide a perfect illustration of why protected areas are so important.

The diverse red gum ecosystems straddling the Victoria-New South Wales border are teeming with unique plants, birds, marsupials and fish - including nationally listed threatened species that are recognised under Australian law.

But these internationally significant Ramsar-listed wetlands are being seriously damaged by unnecessary water extraction and logging.


Many of the red gums felled in these wetlands are destined to become low-value railway sleepers or be burned in fireplaces in Melbourne and Sydney - a terribly wasteful use of 100-year and older trees.

The dramatic decline of Ramsar-listed wetland forests in the Murray Darling Basin have contributed to waterbird populations plummeting by as much as 80 per cent.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has been concerned for many years about the impact excessive water diversion and logging are having on the red gum wetlands of the Murray River.

In December 2008 the Victorian Government declared nearly 100,000 hectares of red gum national parks and reserves along the Murray, Goulburn and Ovens rivers, delivering on ten years of promises and on the recommendations of the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council.

But on the New South Wales side of the river the wetland forests continue to be raided for firewood and railway sleepers.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), Australia’s central piece of environmental legislation, provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important plants, animals and ecological communities defined in the Act as being of national environmental significance.


In the past two years the Federal Environment Department has been investigating river red gum logging in NSW. The findings of that investigation have not been made public through a report, but aspects of it were revealed during Senate Estimates questions in Federal Parliament in May 2009. In response to questioning a Departmental officer confirmed concerns that logging in the NSW red gum wetlands was damaging the habitat of threatened species.

Peter Burnett of the Department’s Approvals and Wildlife Division told Senate Estimates:

The concern is that clear felling in patches destroys the continuity of the tree canopy and that has a very significant impact on the ecological character of the Ramsar wetland, obviously where it is occurring within the Ramsar wetland, and elsewhere. By disrupting the continuity of the tree canopy it is having a significant impact on the habitat of nationally listed threatened species.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

13 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Lindsay Hesketh has been forests campaign coordinator at the Australian Conservation Foundation since 2001. In addition to campaigning for the protection of Australia’s rare and threatened natural forest and woodland ecosystems the task involves helping Australia’s wood products industry make the transition to well managed plantation and agroforestry. Lindsay was compelled to campaign for our magnificent forests having lived most of his life amongst the tall forests and rainforests of Victoria’s Upper Yarra Valley where he gained much knowledge about ecosystems and the domestic native timber industry.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Lindsay Hesketh

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 13 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy