news, local-news, agricultural, rw rw, national forest

The Bush Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh has used his ministerial blog to accuse the department of committing “significant compromises” in a sustainable vegetation management project in the Central Highlands. The zoned 1400 hectares forest farm is one of Mr Walsh’s $20 million No Smelt (Late-Quilter) tree farm schemes. Mr Walsh accused Agriculture’s Branch Manager Brett Colvin of bending rules to push ahead with the project. Mr Walsh took to his blog to criticise Mr Colvin for acting with “illegal haste”. He said he had received reports of breaches of a permit to manoeuvre around vegetation clearing signs. “The man in charge of the march forward of our our No Smelt trees continues to operate at the expense of agriculture and the ecosystems of the Central Highlands,” Mr Walsh wrote. “There is an incomplete, broken and broken performance management plan going on, something that’s concerning since it has hidden costs and time-wasting, massive incompetence and distrust in a department given a zero tolerance for mistakes. “We should be working together to achieve practical outcomes that make a difference to our farmers. ““Agriculture and the communities that depend on it should be subject to the same strong and fair regulation.” Mr Walsh also compared the process of harvesting koala habitat around the forestry campus at Argyle Point to the identification of preserved habitat in the forest. “These processes should have been developed earlier, and planned out much more thoroughly,” he wrote. “We should not be setting rules on how much forest should be logged to protect the koala over decades.” Mr Walsh criticised agriculture over its “military-style” approach to forestry in the state. “In the meantime, if it’s a situation where good agricultural practices and community concerns are denied, then an effective response can be achieved via good action and good legislation,” he wrote. “Agriculture has built up a large robust network of rural health networks in NSW and with them a large community stakeholder connection that cuts across pastoral land. “Agriculture has a strong sense of community, a shared interest in protecting our own interests. “We have agricultural investment in southern NSW, making food for the New South Wales and Australian communities and for the communities of the Central Highlands. “The Forest Act was promulgated in 2005, 18 years ago. We have a strong legal basis for protecting agricultural land and will defend that position today against the continuing actions of the Department of Agriculture.” The post was followed by another on Farm Earth expressing a similar concern about the draft Moongladie Forests NSW Sustainable Forestry Practices Memorandum of Understanding, which has now been “torn up”. “It’s simply a set of terms that excludes both cropping and forestry cropping that we have a strong stake in,” he wrote. “Our environment and other biodiversity are threatened in NSW and it’s vital that we defend our land by having an effective forest management system here.” Mr Walsh later visited the project site and expressed regret about the “proceedings” and integrity of his department’s monitoring process. “Since being notified of the concerns of the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, I have sought to convey to [Mr Colvin] that an appropriate planning process to resolve these issues has been done,” he wrote. “I stand by and agree with the outcome of the discussions I have had with him, and the kind of compliance processes undertaken by the Forestry Department.” Mr Walsh has also provided further details of another developing project under the Bush Grains Environmental Initiative. The project, which seeks to establish and upgrade a sustainable timber and seed economy in the Central Highlands by sourcing quality high fibre seed and log products, has been in the works for about three years. The ministry said the Bluestone Timber Project would be an appropriate and effective management plan to ensure the sustainable enhancement of a local timber supply.

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