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".
Conservationists meeting over the weekend at Bellingen agreed to support calls by Australian Solar Timbers boss Douglas Head, for an inquiry into Wood Supply Agreements for public lands in North East NSW.
The North East Forest Alliance and the North Coast Environment Council have serious concerns that the people of NSW have been misled on the wood contract issue.
"When the then Minister Katrina Hodgkinson announced the decision by the NSW Government in 2014 to buyback 50,000 cubic metres of sawlogs a year from Boral Timber for $8.55 million she said 'we have focused on reducing demand rather than trying to increase supply'", NCEC Vice-President Susie Russell said.
"Nowhere in the media announcements was the information that while the contracts had been reduced between 2015 to 2023, they had also been extended for a further 5 years, to 2028.
NEFA has documented that the Forestry Corporation of NSW have 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.
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