Deep in a NSW forest, a familial divide has been growing between two grand trees.

Across the road from Australia’s widest spotted gum, stands its cousin – the country’s tallest spotted gum – but one has something the other does not.

The widest, affectionately known as Old Blotchy, lies in Murramarang National Park, on the state’s south coast, protected from the saws of forestry operations.

The tallest, Big Spotty, stands at 70 metres high in unprotected state forest across the Princes Highway – and has been slated for logging more than five times in the past decade.

Plans to log around the towering tree in September have been pushed back to 2024, but its future is uncertain.

The local council is calling for the harvesting site to be marked a preserved forest area, meaning no logging can occur in the vicinity.

The state-owned NSW Forestry Corporation said it could not reveal logging plans for the site, but it spent months carrying out ecology surveys and mapping to protect unique environmental features.

After this, a detailed harvest plan would be developed, however the process was yet to be started, it said.

Knitting Nanna activists will wrap the tree in wool on Monday, symbolically marking it as they continue calling for the state government to end native logging.

“People have lived with this tree for hundreds of years,” Larraine Larri told AAP.

“But it’s about a lot more than this tree, forests are vital for biodiversity, clean water and breathable air.”

More than half of NSW forests have been lost since European colonisation, according to one study.

Since 2000, 435,000 hectares have been logged, affecting hundreds of threatened species.

The study’s author, ANU professor David Lindenmayer, said there had been so much logging already in NSW that many of the remaining areas proposed for cutting had high conservation value.

“It’s very hard for the industry to go to other places to find timber because it’s already been cut,” he said.

Last month, the Victorian government announced it would end native logging by next year and pressure has been growing on the NSW government to follow suit.

The NSW native forestry industry represents a tiny fraction of the state’s plantation sector and produces only a small share of sawn timber used in the state.

The majority of native forest logging goes to low-value commodities such as woodchips, paper pulp and box liners, and analyses have shown the industry operates at a loss.

“For the sake of very few jobs, to continue to make a loss that degrades the environment creates environmental hazards and makes no economic or environmental sense,” Prof Lindenmayer said.

Concerns have been raised over the fast-tracking of the Victorian phase-out, during which workers have been given six months to find alternative employment.

For NSW, a quick phase-out seems unlikely and the state government has recommitted to the future of the industry.

In response to questions on the feasibility of the native forestry sector, NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe pointed to government plans to create a national koala park in the state’s north, where native logging is continuing.

She said that election commitment included an independent economic assessment of the park’s impact on local jobs and communities.

Source: AAP