The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is calling on the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries to require the Forestry Corporation to comply with its Fisheries Licence and immediately stop illegal logging of headwater stream buffers in habitat of the Endangered Purple Spotted Gudgeon and to prosecute Forestry for the hundreds of steam buffers unlawfully logged over the past year.
NEFA is holding a march in Coffs Harbour at 10 am today (Wednesday) from the Forestry Corporation office to the Fisheries office to demand that both Government bodies comply with their obligations to protect the Endangered Purple Spotted Gudgeon in accordance with the terms of the Fisheries Licence issued under section 220ZW of the Fisheries Management Act, 1994.
The Forestry Corporation's contribution to International Day of Forests has been to write to NEFA auditor Dailan Pugh threatening him with a $2,200 fine if he returns to meet with the EPA or audit Gibberagee State Forest.
When attending Gibberagee State Forest on 10th of March, at the invitation of the Environment Protection Authority to show them breaches he had identified a month earlier, Mr. Pugh was ordered to leave by the Forestry Corporation.
"The Forestry Corporation threw me out of the forest without allowing me to show the EPA any of the breaches they had asked me there to show them", NEFA auditor Dailan Pugh said.
Mr. Pugh said the Forestry Corporation have since written to him saying the forest was closed when he initially identified the breaches, and threatening that if he returned "Entering this area without proper authorisation is not permitted and if detected, Forestry Corporation may issue a Penalty Infringement Notice or pursue prosecution".
"Now the Forestry Corporation are threatening to fine me $2,200 if I return to Gibberagee to meet the EPA or do anymore auditing. They must have a lot to hide.
"It is no coincidence that currently the only two native forestry operations in NSW subject to closures for logging are the two closest to me at Gibberagee and Bungawalbin.
Dailan Pugh in the forest at Gibberagee
Following the finding of yet more widespread and ongoing breaches of logging laws, the North East Forest Alliance is calling on the Baird Government to restore the rights of the public to take the Forestry Corporation to court to enforce environmental laws,
"If the Baird Government refuses to enforce the logging rules, then let us do it" said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
"For years we have been finding the same sorts of logging offences, time after time after time. The Forestry Corporation are being allowed to flout environmental laws with impunity. The Environmental Protection Authority's (EPAs) lax regulation is clearly not working".
“Stand up for koalas or they won't survive in the wild” is the warning call from the North East Forest Alliance.
“The NSW Government is carrying out a koala extermination program. It really can't be seen as anything else. It is gutting protections for koalas in all the relevant legislation” said Dailan Pugh, NEFA spokesperson.
Outcomes of a recent study by the Environmental Protection Authority prove that Koalas have a significant preference for larger trees and more mature forest, with Koala populations found to be collapsing in recently logged areas.
“The Government now has the evidence that logging is bad for Koalas and needs to take immediate action to identify and protect the remaining Koala colonies that are in public forests threatened by logging. Every day that the Forestry Corporation is allowed to go on logging Koala's preferred feed trees brings them closer to extinction. It has to stop now. We call on Premier Mike Baird to urgently intervene to save NSW's Koalas", said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
SOS: Virtual Protection for Virtual Koalas Won't Save a Species
"It beggars belief that money is being spent on models for koalas that ignores whether an area has been logged or not, and the age of the trees in the area concerned. Virtual habitat might be good for virtual koalas, but we want to see actual koalas protected"
Conservationists meeting over the weekend at Bellingen agreed to support calls by Australian Solar Timbers boss Douglas Head, for an inquiry into Wood Supply Agreements for public lands in North East NSW.
The North East Forest Alliance and the North Coast Environment Council have serious concerns that the people of NSW have been misled on the wood contract issue.
"When the then Minister Katrina Hodgkinson announced the decision by the NSW Government in 2014 to buyback 50,000 cubic metres of sawlogs a year from Boral Timber for $8.55 million she said 'we have focused on reducing demand rather than trying to increase supply'", NCEC Vice-President Susie Russell said.
"Nowhere in the media announcements was the information that while the contracts had been reduced between 2015 to 2023, they had also been extended for a further 5 years, to 2028.
Ending logging of our public forests is part of the solution
With the climate emergency rapidly escalating, north coast conservation groups are calling on the NSW and Commonwealth Governments to immediately end the logging of public forests to allow them to maximise their carbon sequestration and storage.
It took a freedom of information request, by the North Coast Environment Council, but the Environment Protection Authority have finally released the membership of the Threatened Species Expert Panel advising on the re-writing of the logging rules for public forests.
The documents show that far from being independent experts they are Government employees, dominated by current and former employees of Forestry Corp.Read more
Conservation groups have thanked NSW Minister for the Environment, Mark Speakman, for making the time to accompany them on a brief tour of north-east NSW's forests, for listening, and for showing interest in their concerns about our ailing public native forests.
On Saturday representatives of the North Coast Environment Council and the North East Forest Alliance took the Environment Minister on a tour of forests at Royal Camp and up the Richmond Range, west of Casino.