Last Wednesday NEFA agreed to call off an action in Gibberagee State Forest (near Whiporie) in return for the Forestry Corporation's promise that within a week a joint inspection with NEFA, and the EPA if they agreed, would be undertaken to inspect the breaches NEFA had documented, now the Forestry Corporation have reneged and refuse to grant access for NEFA to the closed area at Gibberagee to show either the EPA or themselves the breaches.
"The Forestry Corporation cannot be trusted to honour their word. This breach of trust will not be forgotten", said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
"NEFA considers it outrageous that we are once again denied the chance to show these Government bodies the numerous breaches of the Threatened Species Licence we have found.
"What concerns us most is that based on past experience the illegal logging will continue unabated while the EPA waits for years before verifying our complaints and at best giving the Forestry Corporation meaningless warning letters and cautions.
"Our intervention this time was aimed at trying to highlight the problems to bring this ongoing illegal logging to an end, while ensuring that the Koalas and 8 threatened hollow-dependent animals in the area get the minimal protection they are legally entitled to.
"This attempt has obviously failed", Mr. Pugh said.
Dailan Pugh reaches an understanding with Forestry Corp... that they have now reneged on!
Forest protector and forest friend. Animls like the Yellow-bellied Glider need old forests with tree hollows to nest in.
"A recent audit by NEFA found that Koalas are widespread in Gibberagee State Forest but the Forestry Corporation were not undertaking the pre-logging surveys necessary to identify and protect Koala High Use Areas, and are retaining only half the required number of hollow-bearing and recruitment trees essential to provide homes for the 8 species of threatened hollow-dependent animals recorded in the forest.
"In an effort to force compliance with the Forestry Corporation's Threatened Species Licence people gathered in Gibberagee on Wednesday the 13 February. The loggers were turned around at dawn and a person locked onto the harvesting machine.
"To resolve the situation NEFA proposed to Forestry Corporation Harvesting Manager Dale Mclean that people would leave if the Forestry Corporation would allow NEFA to show the Forestry Corporation and the EPA the breaches we had documented, within a week.
"During an open phone call with the Forestry Corporation's Senior Manager Production Mike Farrow, Dale acknowledged that they agreed to a site inspection within a week with NEFA, and the EPA if they agreed, to inspect the breaches we had identified.
"It was also agreed that we could then show them a Koala high use tree we had identified so they could do the required search, and that an unlogged 5.5ha area we had audited would not be logged until after the joint inspection.
"We took them at their word, so that afternoon the person unlocked himself from the machine, people packed-up and left and we showed Forestry the Koala high use tree.
"Since then NEFA have been negotiating with the EPA and Forestry as to whether we would have a joint or separate inspections this Wednesday. This came to an abrupt end on Tuesday afternoon when the Forestry Corporation responded that they will not grant NEFA access to the closed area at Gibberagee, and that they are not prepared to meet whilst the EPA investigation is current.
"Two years ago in Gibberagee NEFA were ordered out of the forest by the Forestry Corporation after being invited in by the EPA to show them the breaches we had found. The illegal logging continued unabated. The EPA then waited until logging had been over for more than a year before confirming our complaints, and taking meaningless regulatory action
"Our appeal to the NSW Minister for the Environment Gabrielle Upton to stop the illegal logging of Koala habitat at Gibberagee has so far been in vain" Mr. Pugh said.
NEFA's 'Preliminary Audit of Gibberagee SF Compartments 104, 105, and 106' is available at https://www.nefa.org.au/audits