No hope of native logging ban, greens warn
Conservation Commission chairman Brian Easton. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

The new head of a powerful State Government environmental age-ncy has warned conservationists to temper their expectations about native timber logging, saying calls to end the practice are unrealistic.

Brian Easton, who took over as chairman of the Conservation Commission in January, said green groups' demands that logging in State forests be banned were impractical given the Government's support of the industry.

The commission is drawing up the next 10-year blueprint for how many native trees can be chopped down in the State's forests from 2014, reigniting tensions between loggers and environmentalists.

Mr Easton, a veteran public servant, said it was critical the new forest management plan struck the right balance.

He said he would listen to green groups and other stakeholders during the plan's consultation process, but insisted he would not be pushed into extreme positions.

He also said logging quotas would form only one part of the plan, which would also need to consider the overall health of WA's forests and issues including user access.

"If it is simply delivered on the basis that there is to be no harvesting within our State forests or timber reserves, and ignores the overall importance of the plan's elements, then I think it will distract from the potential of what its got to deliver," Mr Easton said.

The plan would be thoroughly researched and any quotas based on the best available science.

Mr Easton's comments are the latest indication the Government will maintain some form of native timber industry after Forestry Minister Terry Redman declared its current size sustainable in October.

Conservation Council director Piers Verstegen said he had serious doubts about whether WA's native forestry industry could continue to operate in a viable or sustainable way.

He claimed taxpayer subsidies being thrown at the industry would only grow bigger as the quality of forests deteriorated, while loggers were also threatening important ecosystems.

"It's unrealistic to expect the community would support a subsidised logging industry to continue if that is going to cause the extinction of a number of threatened species," Mr Verstegen said.

The West Australian

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