Concerns were raised with SOMR about the impact of the new Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA) system on water quality in the Macleay Catchment. In line with SOMR’s mode of operation, we contacted Forestry Corporation NSW to get boots on the ground and get perspective on the issues.
On Tuesday 2nd April; Christa, Denise, John and Rupert attended a site visit to selected Forestry Corporation NSW recent intensive operations and regeneration sites, with Peter Walsh (Soil and Water), Justin (Forest Operations Planner) and Reece (Field Manager).
It is important to understand that FCNSW manages 4% of the Macleay catchment, significantly less than our southern neighbours in the Hastings, and the Nambucca and Bellinger catchments to the north.
SOMR was informed that improved mapping software and improved “walk over” machinery allows for the selective harvesting of timber, with minimal damage to the immediate environment.
The Environmental Protection Authority has a team dedicated to monitoring forestry operations, every machine operated by FCNSW is GPS tracked in “real time”, allowing the EPA to access precise data on the location of operations.
It was explained that the reduction in riparian buffer zones from 10 m to 5 m will also have little impact on sediment in waterways. There is a 10 m “No Go” zone as well as the buffer and use of the “Walk Over” machine minimises soil disturbance. Operating distances from waterways vary according to stream ratings.
Forestry operations are planned to minimise erosion, snig tracks and access roads are stabilised using cross bank constructions (up to 0.5 m) when operations are concluded. The extent of erosion control is based on the analysis of slope and soil type.
There are concerns regarding the impact of private logging, connectivity for wildlife corridors and the development of monoculture plantations, however these are not under SOMR’s remit, which is exclusively on water quality in the catchment.
Future directions include FCNSW use of drones in field management, the inclusion of FCNSW representation on the Macleay Contamination Working Group and SOMR plans taking a look at the ‘Non-Regrowth’ operations in the Styx River area, scheduled for this year.