Welcome to the NEFA Leaf August Edition - your monthly fix of forest news, politics, community campaigns and ways to take action for forests across the North East Coast of Australia.
Statement from our Forest Action Gathering
This month, Nefarians gathered from across the North Coast to plan, strategise and dream up the next phase of forest action. We are fired up and ready to go hard to protect what's left of our incredible native forest across public lands. Read our joint statement below.
We, the representatives of dozens of environment groups make the following statement:
We recognise that healthy forests are of unequivocal value to First Nations peoples and that forests on public land form part of their unceded lands. We are honoured to have the support of many Gumbaynggirr elders and custodians in our efforts to stop the destruction of country and be part of the paradigm shift: from colonial exploitation to a duty of care for country.
We understand that there are climate and extinction emergencies and that the damning State of the Environment Report highlighted that on nearly every measure our environment is deteriorating. Forests are our life support systems and they are in crisis…
We commit to organising and taking action on these key issues over the months ahead and will make our best endeavours to expose the rorts, backroom deals and pork barreling propping up a corrupt system that is damaging community wellbeing, both now and for future generations. Full statement here.
Forest Defenders Gather Outside Coffs Harbour's Forestry Office around logging breaches in local state forests
Yesterday, a crowd gathered outside Coffs Harbour's Forestry Corporation Office to protest against industrial logging on the koala-rich forests on the plateau. Crime tape was wrapped around the building, as the crowd chanted and local ecologists spoke to the crowd.
In NEFA's media release about the breaches Susie Russell shares,
“The 2019/20 fires burnt through this forest. The oldest, largest trees were the best survivors, providing refuge for animal survivors. Now they are being killed, and the animals that depend on them will probably also die.
"This part of Ellis State Forest was identified as being core habitat for one of the largest populations of koalas on the north coast. That was before the fires of 2019/20. Instead of pressing pause on logging to assess the full impact of the fires on the forests and give koalas a chance to recover, then Forestry Minister John Barilaro, renown for describing koalas as 'tree rats’, pushed to keep logging, hiding a secret Government report that warned forestry rules were inadequate to address the combined impacts of forest and logging.”
“If they do see a koala in a tree, they wait until it comes down and then take the tree. There is absolutely no recognition that koalas have home trees and home ranges and favourite places. By destroying them, koalas become homeless, stressed and in many cases die. It’s like if someone drove a bulldozer through your house, and your supermarket and your community centre.Homelessness is a very real crisis for forest animals.
“Now, despite accepted scientific advice that koalas are hurtling to extinction and may well be gone from the wild in less than 30 years, all levels of government are still signing off on destruction of their homes."
Kyogle: Gateway to the World Heritage Rainforest?
Recently the Kyogle environment Group bought it to my attention, that Private Native Forestry logging was taking place along the entrance to the World Heritage Listed Border Ranges National Park. Ironically enough, Kyogle LGA is know as the ‘Gateway to the Rainforest’. It’s our biggest tourist attraction.
How many visitors to our region drive past this logging, just metres from the National Park, to enjoy these iconic parks which form part of the Gondwana Rainforest?
A landscape that’s barely changed in 300 million years.
Surely there is a place for a thriving and healthy local timber production industry, regenerative plantation timber and even healthy thinning of existing natural forests with independent ecological assessment of conservation value and hollow formation potential.
Call for Forestry Corporation Excesses of the Past to End
The Nambucca and Bellingen Community has stood up for its headwater public native forests before.
Oakes State Forest is now threatened again. This is a call to action to join the effort to protect these steep, upriver public native forests, that stabilise the land, provide clean water, a refuge for threatened species such as the koala and mitigate against climate change.
Community Walk-on at Clouds Creek / Gumbaynggirr Country
This month a group of 50 local residents, concerned ecologists, forest lovers and advocates for the protection of our globally significant biodiversity, walked into an industrial logging coupe and halted operations of Greensill Bros under contract of the NSW Forestry Corporation.
This native forest ecosystem at Cloud's Creek State Forest serves as part of Coffs Harbour's drinking water supply catchment area and was burnt badly during the 2019 mega fires.
The logging crew at Cloud's Creek have been absolutely smashing this forest without accountability. Would-be protected, hollow-bearing trees marked 'H' for habitat have been illegally felled and the landscape is decimated. These forests are known refuges for Dungirr (Koala) and the Greater Glider - both endangered with extinction.
Messages from Gumbayngiirr elders have been read out and played over a loud speaker on site.
"Our homeland is sacred to everyone" spoke Uncle Micklo Jarrett in language.
Forestry Corporation NSW and its native logging operations are in their dying throws and they know it. Direct action and community organising taken by ordinary people is the most effective means of changing course and moving into protecting what we have left of our life-supporting systems.
Thank you to these brave folk who stood in front of the machines and sung songs of protection.
Bellingen Environment Centre Update
Bellingen Environment Centre BEC were inspired at NEFA’s Forest Gathering in Bellingen on 30-31st July. Thanks to all Nefarians.
BEC has participated in direct NVDA at Clouds Creek and Ellis SF NW of Dorrigo and were absolutely horrified by the devastation. Our members fully support the end of native forest logging.
We have been hosting regular Kalang Campaign Meetings and have 2 important dates coming up. The BEC and KRAFA alongside a number of environment groups across our two Shires of Bellingen and Nambucca Heads hold a shared commitment to preserving the Headwaters of the Bellinger, Kalang and Nambucca Rivers.
The first date is Saturday August 27 from 12-5pm @ the Art Room, Main Pavilion Bellingen Showground. You can design and paint your own poster or banner to carry in the Street Parade for the Headwaters Protection on September 17th, afternoon tea will ensue at 2pm followed by inspirational speakers well known activist and local ecologist Mark Graham, Susie Russell from North East Forest Alliance and North Coast Environment Council and forest activist and Greens MLC Sue Higginson.
The Street parade will be held on September 17 at 10am at the Bellingen market Park. There will be inspirational speakers at the Street Parade too.
BEC is a well respected and inclusive community of dedicated environmentalists working and networking with the Gumbaynggirr peoples and environment groups across the region.
We are a proud member of the North Coast Environment Council and the Conservation Council of NSW. Our membership is continuing to grow and we look forward to seeing you at our Spring Plant Fair on September 10 at Bellingen Market Park.
Cherry Tree Forest Update
There has been very little forestry activity at Cherry Tree State Forest since the heroic efforts to stop logging back in November last year by the ‘Cherry Tree four’. Seven months after the event the judge at Kyogle court house rightly dismissed all charges against the four.
As well as concerns about further community opposition to the logging, the prolonged wet weather may have played a part in delaying further logging operations. A challenge to the Harvest Plans by a West Bunjalung Native Title Holder could also be a reason for the delay.
However, in the past month there has been extensive slashing of roadsides throughout the forest. The log that Forest corps used to block the access to the forest has been pushed aside but signs prohibiting entry are still up.
The contractor undertaking the roadside slashing told a neighbour that the work was being done in preparation for the summer bushfire season, although he did agree that Forest corps would also be able to make good use of it. (The Cherry Tree road is classified as a ‘Strategic Fire Advantage Zone’ on the Richmond Valley Bushfire Management Plan so it is possible that the funding for this work does not come from Forest Corps budget for the operation)
Forestry vehicles have been seen entering and leaving Cherry Tree sporadically over the past couple of weeks.
A bridge that was put in place on the southern haulage road out of Cherry Tree through to Busbys Flat that was extensively damaged by the summer flooding is currently being repaired.
The typical early spring dry period coincides with the koala breeding season. Three of the landholders adjoining the Cherry Tree State Forest reported they have begun to hear Koalas calling on their properties the past few weeks, indicating that the males are now on the move looking for mates.
Given the extensive resources spent upgrading roads and bridges last year in preparation for logging, with the onset of dry weather and the expected return of above average rainfall again this summer it is likely the logging machinery may soon turn up to take advantage of the dry weather to continue on their path of destruction through the forest.
The Land and Environment Court has rejected the appeal by Verdant Energy and upheld Singleton Council’s view that changing the source fuel for the Redbank Power Station from coal tailings to wood is not substantially the same development. This means VE will have to submit a new Development Application and do an environmental impact assessment.
We know they have been doing a lot of that preparation work, so it might not be long before they put that material out on public exhibition. But for now, it gives us, and the forests a short breather.
Big thanks to all of you who put in submissions!
On the Brink
The Rainforest Information Centre has released two short clips taken from its short film On The Brink.
Olivia Newton-John was a passionate environmentalist who cared deeply about our forests and the plight of the Koala. We send our deepest condolences to her family and close friends. We will do what we can to see that her legacy as a champion for nature and koalas lives on. Rest In Power.
US Forest News
Earth Day, April 22 saw President Joe Biden of the USA, sign an ‘Executive Order to Strengthen America’s Forests, Boost Wildfire Resilience, and Combat Global Deforestation.’ The first and significant point of the Order is to ‘safeguard mature and old-growth forests on federal lands, as part of a science-based approach to reduce wildfire risk’.
Finally! Recognition that older, larger trees are actually part of a fire reduction strategy. He has also prioritised the restoration of oldgrowth forests. The Order provides more funding for data collection -to find those remaining stands of oldgrowth and mature trees for starters, and it also plans to assess the value of ecosystem services, such as the role forests play cleaning our air and water. Importantly it also plans to elevate Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge.
You can read the whole Order here.
Koalas are in big trouble
They have recently been listed as Endangered in NSW and Qld. That is, they are in danger of becoming extinct. There are campaigns across the state to protect them and their habitat. If we can’t save the koala, none of the other forest animals stand a chance. Here’s a short film by Simon Reeves about the battle to save some koalas on the outskirts of Sydney.
Sue Higginson in the Legislative Council!
The newest member for the Greens in the NSW Parliament is our very own Sue Higginson. Sue spent months at the Chaelundi blockade in 1991. Since she graduated as a lawyer she has provided thousands of hours of pro bono advice for campaigners across the country and always has time to listen.
It’s exciting that Sue has made forest protection one of her key objectives and we look forward to working closely with her to achieve that.
Upcoming Deep Ecology Workshops
John Seed is offering 2 deep ecology workshops on the North Coast this year near Kyogle (August 26-28) and near Nimbin (October 21-23).
25% of proceeds support the protection of Ecuadorean rainforests.
For more about deep ecology and the Ecuador project that these workshops are supporting, see here.
Save our Hollow-bearing Trees
NEFA launched a short video explaining the importance of Tree Hollows to the survival of more than 170 species of animals. So many birds, some reptiles and frogs and most of the tree-dwelling nocturnal mammals need tree hollow to nest and shelter and raise their young. These trees are being targeted because they are bigger. Once they are gone it could take two hundred years or more before the smaller trees that are left after logging have tree hollows… if they haven’t been cut down or burnt in the meantime.
Please watch and share the clip and write to the NSW Forestry Minister Dugald Saunders and the NSW Environment Minister James Griffin, asking that they implement the recommendations of the Natural Resource Commission and protect the 24 largest trees per hectare to ensure the survival of all the animal that need the hollows.
We thank you for your support, solidarity and care for the forest! Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have questions about NEFA or are looking for ways to get involved.