The plantation debacle

NEFA is calling on the NSW Government to stop the Forestry Corporation clearfelling 68 ha of some of the best known koala habitat in NSW and converting it into a plantation in compartments 61, 62 and 63 of Wild Cattle Creek State Forest.

They are in the process of clearfelling 68ha of identified high quality Koala habitat, of which 16ha is part of a Koala Hub identified by the Office of Environment and Heritage in 2017 as "highly significant local scale areas of koala occupancy currently known for protection".

Up until 2020 this was classed as native forest, but three years after the Koala Hub was identified, two years after being busted for logging protected Koala habitat in an adjacent operation, and a few months after the 2019 wildfires devastated Koala populations in the area, the Forestry Corporation had this Koala habitat reclassed as a plantation based on a spurious claim that in the 1960s someone scattered some seed around.

Scattering seed around after logging was a common practice 50 years ago, but scattered Blackbutt seed in a natural Blackbutt forest doesn’t make it a plantation.

Now they can legally clearfell it, and sell the timber as plantation timber.

See The Plantation Debacle

Conversion of native forest to plantation in WCC

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Brief Inspection of Compartment 44 Wild Cattle Creek SF

In just 3 hours in July 2022, in compartment 44 of Wild Cattle Creek State Forest, NEFA found 7 trees marked for retention as Koala Feed Trees and 13 old trees marked for protection as Hollow-bearing Trees that had been bashed by machinery or had trees dropped upon them, many of which won’t survive. This is indicative of the widespread breaches that occurred.

The trees that were recklessly damaged are some of the few trees that legally required protection in what has been identified as one of 567 priority areas across the whole of NSW for protection as a highly significant area of koala occupancy.

This is not an isolated case, the Forestry Corporation were fined $285,600 in June for logging into a Koala High Use Area, rainforest and a rainforest buffer 4 km to the west, and last month the EPA announced they are prosecuting the Forestry Corporation for logging six Giant Trees and seven Hollow-bearing Trees 5 km to the south.

All this illegal logging is occurring in what is some of the best Koala habitat in Australia, proposed as part of the Great Koala National Park.

The audit is a available here.

Trees retained as Hollow-bearing Trees, and also as Koala feed trees, recklessly damaged during logging.

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Cherry Tree SF Core Koala Habitat

Cherry Tree State Forest is Core Koala Habitat

There is no doubt that Koalas are widespread in compartments 3 and 4 of Cherry Tree
State Forest, and have been for at least the past 23 years, and it appears they are
using most suitable feed trees. The forest in the logging area is dominated by Koala
use tree species, and thus is highly suitable Koala habitat.

Read the full NEFA Report into the Koalas at Cherry Tree State Forest.

These fresh little koala scats (poos) are proof there are koalas currently using the forest. (Photo Dailan Pugh)

koala scats

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CHERRY TREE FOREST NEEDS YOU

Join the community forest protectors taking action for our public native forests in Cherry Tree State Forest

Forest protectors standing up for Cherry Tree State Forest

(adjoining Mallanganee National Park on the Richmond Range, west of Casino)

Stand Up 4 Cherry Tree LOGO

#StandUp4CherryTree

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Cherry Tree Issues of Concern

The Forestry Corporation has started logging in compartments 3 and 4 of Cherry Tree State Forest. NEFA is of the view that before any logging takes place there are several issues that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

One of the species of concern in this forest is the endangered Black-striped Wallaby.

(Photo: Chris Sanderson)

 

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Tooloom Rainforest Massacre

A North East Forest Alliance audit of the Forestry Corporation’s widening of a track through rainforest around a Hoop Pine plantation west of Urbenville in the upper Clarence River valley found that it resulted in the clearing and damage to 5-6 hectares of world heritage quality rainforest, mostly within the Tooloom National Park.

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Bungabbee State Forest - Preliminary Assessment

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When the Forestry Corporation identified they intended to start logging Bungabbee State Forest near Lismore in north east NSW in November, NEFA decided to organise a group of flora and fauna experts to undertake a brief survey with the primary aims of identify localities of threatened species and priority habitat areas for protection.. Our brief visit revealed the additional presence of the Vulnerable Long-nosed Potoroo and Marbled Frogmouth, as well as the Critically Endangered Native Guava.  We identified records for 173 threatened plants.

The finding of a large unknown outlying population of the regionally endemic Marbled Frogmouth is exciting. This is one of only a handful of species that the Forestry Corporation is still required to look for ahead of logging and protect additional habitat for, in this case wider stream buffers. Though as their model did not predict its occurrence in Bungabbee, they didn't have to look there. Luckily we did.

It was particularly disturbing to find significant populations of the Critically Endangered Scrub Turpentine and Native Guava. The very survival of these species is in doubt because of the introduced fungus Myrtle Rust. There is something fundamentally wrong when we allow logging amongst species teetering on the brink of extinction, with low prospects of regeneration, rather than doing all we can to save them.

Our results clearly demonstrate the need for pre-logging assessments to identify those parts of forests most in need of permanent protection, rather than allowing the Forestry Corporation to pick those areas with the lowest timber values. Most importantly they prove that Bungabee State Forest is of exceptional importance and should be added to the reserve system.

You can read the full audit report by clicking on this link.

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The identification of Koala refugia in Myrtle State Forest, Supplementary report 1

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On 15 September NEFA undertook a supplementary survey to better assess the extent of an important Koala fire refugia previously identified in an area of Myrtle State Forest proposed for imminent logging. The area was burnt in the 2019 fires, killing most Koalas, though some survived.

Citizen scientists identified a further 564 Koala scats under 21 trees, with distinctive Koala scratches on an additional tree. Increasing the identified area where Koalas survived the devastating fires to 14 ha, and making it obvious that this refugia is more extensive.

This survey reinforces the need for a comprehensive survey with scat detection dogs to identify the full extent of this and other Koala refuges in the forest before logging commences.

The Banyabba Koala population has been decimated by the Busbys Flat and Myall Creek fires. All remaining areas of Koala occupancy must be protected, along with suitable habitat to allow them to expand back into as they recover from the fires and can repopulate previously occupied habitat.

Read the full supplementary survey report by clicking this link or copy url: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/ncec/pages/1371/attachments/original/1600224472/Myrtle_Koala_High_Use_Area_Supp1..pdf?1600224472

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The identification of Koala refugia in Myrtle State Forest

The identification of Koala refugia in Myrtle State Forest

NEFA undertook a brief and quick survey on 3 September over some 7 hectares of burnt forest in Myrtle State Forest, adjacent to where we had previously identified 2 trees with Koala scats. This identified 1,118 Koala scats under an additional 18 trees, with 517 scats under one tree, in an area where the Forestry Corporation have never identified Koalas.

This constitutes part of an important Koala refugia where Koalas have survived the fires.

Logging is imminent. These findings demonstrate the need for a comprehensive survey to identify all remaining Koala refugia for protection before logging starts.

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Photo: Dailan Pugh, OAM

517 Koala scats were counted under a Grey Box, displaying frequent use of this single tree.

To read the full report, click this link.

Or copy this url: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/ncec/pages/1367/attachments/original/1599207152/Koala_refugia_in_Myrtle_State_Forest.pdf?1599207152

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Brief Audit of Wild Cattle Creek

Brief Audit of Wild Cattle Creek

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Dailan Pugh, North East Forest Alliance, July 2020

On the afternoon of 28 July 2020 NEFA undertook a brief audit of Compartments 32, 33 and 34 of Wild Cattle Creek State Forest near Cascade on the Dorrigo plateau to assess compliance with the new Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (CIFOA) logging prescriptions.

The EPA had found significant logging breaches on 9 July and imposed a Stop Work Order on 18 July, allowing illegal logging to continue for 9 days.

The legal breaches we found from a brief inspection of a small part of the logging area were:

  • 2 'giant trees' felled

  • 4 giant 'hollow-bearing trees' damaged by machinery and tree felling

  • 6 marked small tallowwood Koala Feed Trees significantly damaged

    These show that breaches are more widespread and significant than identified by the EPA.

    These forests contain significant numbers of massive Sydney Blue Gums and Tallowwoods hundreds of years old, making them of exceptional importance for the many fauna species dependent upon large hollows for denning and nesting. These species are also key Koala feed trees, with the logging areas identified as high quality Koala habitat, partially within and adjacent to the largest Koala Hub (resident population) identified on the Dorrigo Plateau.

Click this link to read the full audit.

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