18/02/22: Camira State Forest - Dalian Pugh Leads Search for Endangered Koalas
This week around a dozen Fridays4Forests protectors met in Camira State Forest (west of the Summerland Way, between Casino and Grafton) with renowned environmentalist and President of the North East Forest Alliance, Dailan Pugh (OAM) to follow up on his work there surveying for our endangered koalas. Dailan has been studying the unburnt section of Camira which is imminently threatened with logging and found considerable evidence of a significant koala colony there.Read more
The North East Forest Alliance was formed in 1989 as an alliance of groups and individuals from throughout north-east NSW, with the principal aims of protecting rainforest, oldgrowth, wilderness and threatened species. NEFA has pursued these goals through forest blockades, rallies, court cases, submissions, lobbying, and protracted negotiations. Read the history of our first blockade at North Washpool in 1989.
After our second blockade of North Washpool and a court case we stopped logging of mapped rainforest on public lands in 1990. We managed to get rainforest more fully mapped and protected during forest negotiations from 1995-98. (see A Short History of Reserves in North East NSW)
After a blockade and court case over Chaelundi in 1990, and promises of more to come, we forced the NSW Government to establish moratoria over some 180,000 ha of oldgrowth forest until EISs were prepared. We managed to get oldgrowth mapped during forest negotiations from 1995-98, with mapped “high conservation value” oldgrowth protected. In 2003 we had protection extended to cover all mapped oldgrowth stands over 10ha on public land. Wilderness on public land was also protected as part of that process. (see A Short History of Reserves in North East NSW)
After our second and biggest blockade at Chaelundi in 1991, and another court case, we were successful in getting NSW’s first threatened species legislation, the Endangered Fauna (Interim Protection) Act. It took many more blockades, submissions and negotiations to get requirements for fauna and flora surveys and a comprehensive set of prescriptions for public land in 1996-9. Unfortunately they remain inadequate and poorly applied. (see The Battle to Protect Threatened Species)
It took NEFA’s 1992 blockade of a logging operation at Killekrankie in the New England Wilderness to halt horrendous logging and roadworks that were causing massive erosion, and a threatened court case, to force the Government to agree to adopt Pollution Control Licences for State Forests’ operations. Though a comprehensive suite of prescriptions to reduce erosion and protect streams wasn’t finally applied on public lands until 1996-9. Inadequate as they are, the Forestry Corporation was successful in having over 90% of their operations exempted in 2004. (see The Battle to Protect Soils and Streams)
For north east NSW, NEFA were also instrumental in getting the area of national parks and other conservation reserves increased from 968,335ha in 1989 to 2,033,227ha in 2011, an increase of 1,064,892 ha or 110%, with most of this being protected over the period 1995 to 2004. In addition to this, 311,615 ha of State Forest was incorporated into Forest Management Zones (FMZ 1, 2, and 3A) and Special Management Zones which are counted as contributing to the reserve system and protected from logging, bringing the total protected from logging to 1,376,507ha. The proportion of north-east NSW’s land area in reserves has increased from 10% in 1989 to 21% in 2011, with an additional 3% protected from logging in management zones. (see A Short History of Reserves in North East NSW)
There is still a lot to do, north east NSW still does not have an adequate reserve system, attempts to implement ecologically sustainable forestry have failed, forests are being over-logged, weeds and dieback are being spread through our forests, and their carbon stocks depleted.
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.Read more
DECISION TO LOG OLDGROWTH AND RAINFOREST BASED ON FRAUDULENT CLAIMS
The NSW Government is using grossly inflated timber commitments to fraudulently justify logging oldgrowth forest and rainforest protected in the Comprehensive Adequate and Representative reserve system, according to the North East Forest Alliance.
With revelations that the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) has based its justifications for logging oldgrowth and rainforests, and other environmental wind-backs, on a 33% increase in timber commitments, NEFA is calling upon the Environment Minister, Gabrielle Upton to honour her predecessors promises by' intervening to direct the agencies to renegotiate an environmentally fairer set of logging rules based on existing wood supply obligations rather than the NRC's grossly inflated volumes.
"Since 2013 a succession of NSW Environment Ministers have repeatedly reassured environment groups that the new logging rules (Integrated Forestry Operations Approval) would result in no erosion of environmental values and no wind-back of the reserve system", NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
"With the NSW Government now proposing to log oldgrowth forest and rainforest, increase logging intensity, introduce clearfelling, reduce buffers on headwater streams, and remove protections for most threatened species on public land in north-east NSW, it is clear that they lied to us.
LOGGING OF PUBLIC NATIVE FORESTS HAS LOST ITS SOCIAL LICENCE
The North East Forest Alliance maintains that submissions to the NSW Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) show that the logging of public native forests has lost its social licence and that the community do not support the NSW and Commonwealth Government's proposals to extend the RFAs for 20 more years.
Of the 5,425 submissions to the RFAs only 23 supported the Government's proposal to extend the RFAs for 20 years and give additional five-year rolling extensions after each future five-yearly review, and nearly all these were from the industry.
The so-called 'Independent Review' of NSW's Regional Forest Agreements was tabled in the Commonwealth Parliament on 25 June 2018.
The review notes 'The majority of submitters would like the State to cease native forest logging on public land, indicating it damages biodiversity, environmental values and environmental services such as water, carbon capture and amenity, and provides a low economic return'.
"The Regional Forest Agreements have no credibility, their only purpose is for the Commonwealth to avoid its legal obligations for threatened species and heritage under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.", said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.Read more
The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is calling on the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries to require the Forestry Corporation to comply with its Fisheries Licence and immediately stop illegal logging of headwater stream buffers in habitat of the Endangered Purple Spotted Gudgeon and to prosecute Forestry for the hundreds of steam buffers unlawfully logged over the past year.
NEFA is holding a march in Coffs Harbour at 10 am today (Wednesday) from the Forestry Corporation office to the Fisheries office to demand that both Government bodies comply with their obligations to protect the Endangered Purple Spotted Gudgeon in accordance with the terms of the Fisheries Licence issued under section 220ZW of the Fisheries Management Act, 1994.
The Forestry Corporation's contribution to International Day of Forests has been to write to NEFA auditor Dailan Pugh threatening him with a $2,200 fine if he returns to meet with the EPA or audit Gibberagee State Forest.
When attending Gibberagee State Forest on 10th of March, at the invitation of the Environment Protection Authority to show them breaches he had identified a month earlier, Mr. Pugh was ordered to leave by the Forestry Corporation.
"The Forestry Corporation threw me out of the forest without allowing me to show the EPA any of the breaches they had asked me there to show them", NEFA auditor Dailan Pugh said.
Mr. Pugh said the Forestry Corporation have since written to him saying the forest was closed when he initially identified the breaches, and threatening that if he returned "Entering this area without proper authorisation is not permitted and if detected, Forestry Corporation may issue a Penalty Infringement Notice or pursue prosecution".
"Now the Forestry Corporation are threatening to fine me $2,200 if I return to Gibberagee to meet the EPA or do anymore auditing. They must have a lot to hide.
"It is no coincidence that currently the only two native forestry operations in NSW subject to closures for logging are the two closest to me at Gibberagee and Bungawalbin.
Dailan Pugh in the forest at Gibberagee
Following the finding of yet more widespread and ongoing breaches of logging laws, the North East Forest Alliance is calling on the Baird Government to restore the rights of the public to take the Forestry Corporation to court to enforce environmental laws,
"If the Baird Government refuses to enforce the logging rules, then let us do it" said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
"For years we have been finding the same sorts of logging offences, time after time after time. The Forestry Corporation are being allowed to flout environmental laws with impunity. The Environmental Protection Authority's (EPAs) lax regulation is clearly not working".
Outcomes of a recent study by the Environmental Protection Authority prove that Koalas have a significant preference for larger trees and more mature forest, with Koala populations found to be collapsing in recently logged areas.
“The Government now has the evidence that logging is bad for Koalas and needs to take immediate action to identify and protect the remaining Koala colonies that are in public forests threatened by logging. Every day that the Forestry Corporation is allowed to go on logging Koala's preferred feed trees brings them closer to extinction. It has to stop now. We call on Premier Mike Baird to urgently intervene to save NSW's Koalas", said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
Logging Dieback is the dominant form of Bell Miner Associated Dieback affecting forests in northeast NSW. Bell Miner Associated Dieback (BMAD) is spreading through our forests as a consequence of logging opening the canopy and promoting understorey dominance by lantana. It is principally a problem of wet forests and gullies, though is increasingly affecting surrounding forests subject to lantana invasion. For over two decades the Forestry Corporation have intentionally procrastinated over the causes and management of BMAD so that they can go on logging affected and susceptible stands. (see The Battle to Redress Logging Dieback)
March 2018: Dailan Pugh has reviewed the extent and effect of Bell Miner Associated Dieback (BMAD) on the NSW section of the Border Ranges (North and South), one of Australia's 15 Biodiversity Hotspots and part of one of the world's 36 Biodiversity Hotspots. These forests are recognised as being of World Heritage Value.
Read the Review: Killing Our Forests with Their Songs
Read an earlier NEFA report For Whom the Bell Miners Toll.
The causes of logging dieback continues to be debated but many scientists agree that logging and weed invasion are the primary causes of logging dieback. (see The Causes of Logging Dieback).