Reprieve from Extreme Logging on Extreme Slopes

Good news!

The Minister for the Environment, Mark Speakman, has let us know that the steep land logging trial proposed to be held in the upper catchment of the Nambucca, Kalang, Bellinger and Orara Rivers is now “not anticipated to be in”  the new logging rules when they come out for public comment in October. He did say he “couldn’t rule something out forever” but this is great news in the short term. The local community stood up and said NO to such an  extreme proposal. Had they got away with it, Forestry Corporation planned to extend steep slope cable logging across thousands of hectares of the steep upper catchment areas. It would have ruined our beautiful mountain vistas that are backdrops to our coastal towns, dried up our water catchments that supply farms and towns, destroyed habitat of our forest dependent threatened species and destroyed the opportunity for mature trees to contribute to carbon storage to mitigate against climate change. So thanks to everyone who helped out with the campaign and spreading the word. It’s a victory for common sense. 

However the bad news is that we now know Forestry Corporation are planning to introduce massive clearfells, 50 hectares in size, across many of the coastal forests between Grafton and Taree and increase the intensity of logging nearly everywhere else. See our page Forest Slaughter.

NB:  NEFA's research into the proposed steep slope cable logging and the reason NEFA lobbied the government to not go ahead with this proposal can be read below.  

Right now, the NSW State Government is planning to begin cable logging of steep forested slopes. Areas that are hard to get to and play a vital role in holding our catchments together are now under immediate threat.

The intensity of logging in the first area to be subject to the cable logging treatment can be seen here. Each orange line is a cable site.


This will then be done across the areas outlined in red (see image below). They form an important part of the Nambucca, Bellinger, Coffs Harbour, Taylor's Arm, Kalang, Never Never and Orara River catchments.

After this no forested part of the steep land of the north coast will be safe.


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In 1992 NEFA stopped a relatively small logging operation on extremely steep slopes at Mount Killekrankie in Oakes SF that was causing horrendous erosion, with over 88,000 tonnes of soil being mobilised into the headwaters of the Bellinger River. It was this case that proved the need for legally enforceable prescriptions for forestry and resulted in logging being prohibited on the steepest and most erodible slopes. (see The Folly of Logging on Steep Erodible Slopes)

Now that the NSW Government is becoming desperate for sawlogs to satisfy its Wood Supply Agreements it wants to over-turn the prohibition of logging on extremely steep-lands and introduce cable logging into NSW (see The Battle for Sustainable Yields is Lost).

In 2014 a NSW Government Steering Committee tasked with identifying means of making up for declining yields, proposed logging blackbutt forest on excessively steep slopes in the headwaters of the Taylors Arm, Nambucca, Kalang, Bellinger, Never Never and Orara Rivers. It was considered that with the use of cable-logging around 50,000 m3 per year of sawlogs could be obtained for around 6-7 years from slopes over 30o.

As part of their remake of the logging rules the EPA subsequently announced “FCNSW will conduct a small scale trial to determine which techniques can be used to augment ground-based methods on steep country in coastal NSW”. As well as allowing the Forestry Corporation to “trial” cable logging, the EPA intend to “reduce the prescriptive nature” of Environment Protection Licence and allow clearfelling.

While this may buy a few years of continued over-logging, there is nothing sustainable about it. For a few years worth of logging they will leave behind degraded landscapes and the community will have to bear the costs of the ongoing landslips, massive erosion, increased flooding, reduced dry-season stream flows and the pollution and siltation of their creeks and rivers. If this goes ahead it will just be the start, no forested part of the steep land of the north coast will be safe.

Showing 3 reactions

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  • David L.
    commented 2022-12-24 04:29:04 +1100
    I’ve been following this story for years and it’s so interesting how logging companies work with local governments. In Victoria, BC, Canada tree service companies like Top Tree Service are stepping up to help preserve forests on slopes along the highways for the beauty they present.
  • Leif Lemke
    commented 2015-05-07 17:08:46 +1000
    As a custodian of 2 km of river-frontage to the Bellinger River I live with the consequences of the 1992 Killekranke logging operation disaster. More than 20 years after the event we are still seeing the gravel moving down the river, damaging bridges and creating excessive flooding in the now much more shallow river. Thordale
  • Caroline Joseph
    commented 2015-02-08 09:07:13 +1100
    The Bellingen Environment Centre has written to NSW Minister Robert Stokes about the so called “trial” and our main concern is that to conduct the trial the "steep slopes limit of 30% must be removed. Anyone with a concern about the aerial spraying of Gladstone Forest should take a look at the size of the timber cut at the other end of Gladstone which runs between Kalang and Brierfield. These immature trees were harvested from the same forest on slopes that it is barely imaginable that humans could enter. This proposal involves three catchments, the Nambucca, the Bellinger and the Orara. The Minister’s reply simpley directed us to the EPA and the EPA are currently working with OEH to removed what laws remain to protect our forests and replacing them with guidelines. The Bellingen Community puts the Minister and his short sighted colleagues on notice that we will not allow Cable Logging in Oakes Forest and that we call on the NSW Government to STOP logging Native Forest on Public Land. On March 28th vote for anyone with a commitment to FORESTS FOREVER.