Welcome to the NEFA Leaf May Edition - your monthly fix of forest news, politics, community campaigns and ways to take action for forests across the North East Coast of Australia.
Demystifying Koala SEPP Webinar
On Thursday 22nd April NEFA hosted its first public webinar, Demystifying Koala SEPP 2021. We invited every councillor from the 14 NE NSW LGAs between Tweed & Armidale.
We had over 100 attendees on the day making the most of the opportunity to hear from 4 leading experts on the issues involved in this regulatory attack by the NSW Berejiklian government on our koalas and councils. They heard from our very own Dailan Pugh, Bellingen Mayor Dom King, Ecologist Steve Phillips and EDO Senior Solicitor Carrin Loane.
Many people have asked if they can review the video of the event and the answer is YES you can see it all and share it around on Facebook by following this link.
If you would like to know what councillors can do to help, and would like to let them know, send them this simple resource.
A few friendly faces of the 100 that joined us for our Koala SEPP webinar
Accounting for burning in issuing new Wood Supply Agreements
From August 2019 until January 2020 a series of wildfires burnt through 2.4 million hectares of north-east New South Wales (north from the Hunter River), encompassing 29% of the region and around half the remnant native vegetation. Due to the drought the fires were unprecedented in their extent and the intensity with which the wet forest refugia burnt.
It is scary that over a third of our rainforests (some 160,000 ha) burnt, with over a quarter suffering significant loss of canopy trees. They are Gondwanan survivors from the extinction of the dinosaurs, multiple ice ages and the onslaught of European settlers, and yet still support half our biodiversity. Most of the burnt rainforest will regenerate, though will be more vulnerable to elimination in the next fire.
The survival of our rainforests is now threatened by climate heating.
Myrtle State Forest, May 2020 (Dailan Pugh)
Forest Corp returning to the scene of the crimes; Cherry Tree State Forest
Following an extensive list of breaches to regulations in 2015, logging is scheduled to begin again in Cherry Tree State Forest in August this year.
A NEFA audit following logging of three compartments in 2015 has documented that the Forestry Corporation of NSW breached the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act by not abiding by a national recovery plan, the National Parks and Wildlife Act by roading and logging the Endangered Ecological Community Lowland Rainforest, as well as committing breaches of 4 conditions of the Integrated Forestry Operational Approval, 41 conditions of the Threatened Species Licence, 19 conditions of the Environment Protection Licence, 7 conditions of the Fisheries Licence and numerous conditions of their own Harvesting Plan.
Despite the extensive range of offences clearly highlighted by Dailan on behalf of NEFA Forestry Corp were never held to account. Forestry Corp now plans to log the adjoining compartments to the previous 2015 logging operation.
Cherry Tree Audit (Photo: Jimmy Maleki)
Dodging the issue of Bell Miner Associated Dieback again
When I moved to live in the upper Clarence River valley in the early 1980’s I quickly learnt that the tinkling of Bell Miners (Bell Birds) was a harbinger of death, of understories infested with lantana and overtopped by sick and dead eucalypts.
The problem was that logging was opening up the canopy and disturbing the soil, and lantana was thriving. So too were Bell Miners, they took advantage of the dense understorey for nesting and the open overstorey to mob and chase away most other native species. With few predators, populations of tiny psyllids that feed on eucalypt leaves exploded, and literally sucked the life out of the eucalypts.
For 40 years I have watched and protested as the Forestry Corporation have recklessly spread lantana and dieback across the landscape, refusing to accept that they are the cause. It is now called Bell Miner Associated Dieback and there are well over 100,000 ha of BMAD in north east NSW, and its rapidly worsening. Full story here.
Kangaroo River Dieback (Dailan Pugh)
Momentum builds to defend Newry State Forest
Last week over 50 people joined Gumbaynggirr elders for a morning welcome and smoking ceremony before setting off on a 8k walk of Newry State Forest. The walk was guided by local ecologists and younger Gumbaynggirr custodians, taking us along the beautiful forest ridge lines that are due to be logged by Forestry Corp any day.
Camp Nunguu has continued to be a meeting ground for forest protectors in the area. There has been weekly campaign meetings, music evenings, climbing skill-shares, 'know your rights' workshops and citizen science surveys run from camp.
Our small citizen science team found koala scats within 10 minutes of starting our search, in a patch of grey gums with historic koala records. We are concerned that ‘untrained’ community members were able to find evidence of koalas quicker than trained ecologists working for Forestry Corporation after they released their own ecology report from Newry last week. They found no evidence of koalas while recognising the forest had areas of high-quality koala habitat.
Koala experts and forest ecologists assert that habitat loss is the biggest threat to koalas survival and they're the ones we are listening to. We are no longer here to negotiate or ask for small favours from Forestry Corp... we are preparing to do whatever it takes to fully protect the remaining public native forests across Gumbaynggirr lands.
Come visit camp! There's always some hot tea and fresh damper on the fire and plenty to do! All our events are posted here.
Directions: From Giinagay Way (near Urunga) make your way onto Martells Road, after 4.7km turn left on Bryces Road, after 4.3km you'll arrive at Camp.
Dave Pfister shows locals the map through Newry (Photo: Calumn Hockey)
Community call-outs for Artists to help defend Newry State Forest
Are you an artist or have some art you'd like to donate to help protect public native forests?
Camp Nunguu is collecting donated pieces to host a community art auction in Bellingen in June. Funds will be use for our camp & NVDA fund to protect the beautiful Newry SF, and any other public native forests under threat on Gumbaynggirr country.
Please share around your creative networks and help fund forest defence through art for earths sake! Deadline for artworks is May 30. Email [email protected] for more information.
A forest is not a furnace!
The campaign against the plan to reopen Redbank Power Station and burn more than a million tonnes of wood every year, is rolling along. The ALP's National Party member, Joel Fitzgibbon, weighed in to the debate, extolling its virtues and repeating the same old lines that it would use waste wood, that it is renewable, that it will help the climate, that it's good for the Hunter....blah blah. ALL LIES.
The coal lovers seem to also love burning wood for electricity. Who's surprised. Just as they like to dig stuff up and chop stuff down, they like to burn stuff too.... coal, gas, wood, rubbish. Not sure what it says about their personalities.
Local group No Electricity from Forests are getting some campaign posters made with the really simple message - No Burning Trees for Electricity! A 5 year old could tell these dumb-ass burning proponents that we need to keep trees in the ground for climate and for habitat.
Find NEFA & friends at Renewfest
Biomass Action Group (BAG) and Caldera Environment Centre (CEC) have teamed up to present a stall at this year’s upcoming Renew Fest. The partnership will be dedicated to educating the public on Bioenergy - the fake and dangerous renewable: what you need to know, and what to do about it. For more information on these plans, see the Events tab on BAG’s Facebook Page.
Renew Fest is scheduled for 7 – 9 May 2021 at the Mullumbimby Showgrounds (62 Main Arm Road, Mullumbimby). For more information on the event see here.
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.
Til next LEAF,
North East Forest Alliance