Forestry Corporation logging in the Nambucca and Bellingen catchments is based on a faulty soil assessment method and is causing soil erosion and polluted waterways, report finds.
Cooks Creek in Juugawarri NP 2019 vs Cooks Creek September 7 2020 after a Pollution incident (sediment delivery) from road-grading upslope.
Reported to Lyn Orrego July 2021 EPA and NPWS, soil catching devices installed.
Year after year, the creeks and rivers of the Nambucca and Bellingen catchments turn turbid and brown after rain that follows logging. Soil scientists over many years have presented evidence that the soil assessment method in the rules governing Forestry Corporation (FC) logging operations is faulty and too weak (J. McGarity and M. Eddie), yet Forestry Corporation and the so-called regulator, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) refuse to tighten these so-called soil and water protection rules..
The rules that govern logging of our NSW public native forests (the Coastal Integrated Forestry operations Approval – CIFOA), are claimed to be based on science and to deliver ecologically sustainable forest management. One of these rules, applies to assessing the soils for their likelihood of causing erosion and pollution of downslope waterways following logging.
FC claim the soils of the Nambucca and Bellingen catchments are the type that don’t easily deliver sediment into creeks after logging. However, a report by soil scientist Michael Eddie sets out an evidence-based case that the soils of the “Nambucca Beds” (see map), especially the subsoils, are of the type that ARE readily mobilised downhill and into creeks. Local knowledge bears this out.
Eddie clearly states his expert opinion: “ I believe that the Soil Regolith Stability Class has been incorrectly assigned to R1 throughout the Nambucca Beds” Regolith is the soil layer from top down to bedrock. Class R1 indicates the soils have low ability to transport sediment downhill. Eddie goes on to describe three expert lines of evidence to support his claim that these soils have “high sediment delivery potential because of the high erodibility of the Nambucca Beds—" and should be assigned an R3 ratiing – High Sediment Delivery Potential.
The suspended sediment in streams is like a dust storm on dry land – fish can be suffocated, vegetation smothered and sediment can permeate into all the homes and nurseries of invertebrates hidden away in nooks and crannies between rocks and in the gravel beds of the creek. As the velocity of the water slows the larger soil particles are progressively deposited. At their worst, sediments can completely cover the natural
substrate filling pools and turning the stream beds into the equivalent of biological deserts. (Dailan Pugh Stream Health www.nefa.org.au )
In 2018, Michael Eddie, Senior Soil Scientist (retired), formerly of the Science Division , NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and the author of “Soil Landscapes of the Macksville & Nambucca 1:100,000 Sheets” (2000) , DLWC 2000, in his March 2018 report “Land and Soil Hazards on the Nambucca Beds, Northeast NSW” set out the case for the claim that the underlying Regolith classification is incorrectly set for the Nambucca Beds, as they exhibit High Sediment Delivery Potential not Low as has been assumed and included in the spatial dataset in the CIFOA.
The Nambucca Valley Conservation Association (NVCA) has written to EPA to request that they correct this mistake regarding the allocation of Soil Regolith Classification for the Nambucca Beds as R 1 when they should be R3 by updating the ‘Soil Regolith’ spatial dataset as is allowed under the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (CIFOA) Condition 116.2 and Protocol 34.
Meantime it is only the positive and non-violent actions of all groups and individuals who care about our native forests, the lands they stabilise and the clean and abundant water they provide downstream, that is precariously putting a hold on logging in the “Nambucca Beds” area.
Please note that NVCA opposes the continued logging of NSW public native forests, supports the declaration of the proposed Great Koala National Park and urges a speedy transition to a 100% plantation-based timber industry for NSW. NVCA’s comments on the CIFOA above do not imply otherwise – only seek to improve these logging rules as a 2nd preference until our 1st preference to let the public native forests recover from past excesses and grow old in peace, can be achieved.
Kalang River catchment: Sediment delivery of Nambucca Beds soils shown on the ground by Jonas Bellchambers (Bellingen Environment Centre) in a fire containment line in 2019 in Cpt 128 Scotchman SF in Kalang river catchment. Full report available. It was submitted to the NSW Bushfire Inquiry. Watch full video here.