NEFA’s court case ‘North East Forest Alliance Inc v Commonwealth of Australia & State of NSW’ challenging the extension of the North East NSW Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) will be heard in the Federal Court of Australia before Justice Perry on the 28 and 29 of March. NEFA’s challenge is being run by the Environmental Defenders Office.
NEFA is challenging the 2018 decision to extend the North East RFA, effectively indefinitely, largely based on the Comprehensive Regional Assessment (CRA) undertaken in 1997 and 1998, without a new assessment.
“Should we win, the North East NSW RFA will no longer exempt logging operations from assessment and approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, or exempt wood from the requirements of the Export Control Act 2020, with potential ramifications for all other RFAs, NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
This koala was spotted just 10 metres from a rally we held at Braemar -
in the middle of the area threatened by logging.
The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) travelled out to Braemar State Forest in July 2019 to survey and protect koala habitat under logging rules that meant areas significant koala use would need to be protected. What we discovered blew us away with an exceptional population of an estimated 60+ koalas at risk of logging. Scat searches indicate there are over 100ha of Koala High Use areas – unprecedented in State Forests.
What we found was so compelling that we returned multiple times and completed four different audits of koala evidence in the area.
When we submitted this data to Forestry Corporation of NSW they simply announced they would be logging Braemar State Forest under the new logging rules meaning no koala habitat will be protected. We have estimated that homes of over 60 koalas will be decimated if this logging were to go ahead - unthinkable while local koala populations have halved in just 20 years. (source)
With logging due to commence, we are turning to the community to come together in support of Braemar's koalas.
We can stop this devastation, but we need your help.
Take the pledge below to stand up for Braemar's koalas.
A hundred people rallied on Sunday 15th September to protect Braemar - Photo David LoweBecome a volunteer
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.
AFTER 30 YEARS NEFA NEEDED MORE THAN EVER
MEDIA RELEASE 6/6/2019
On 5th June the North East Forest Alliance celebrated 30 years since its inaugural meeting at the Big Scrub Environment Centre in Lismore on World Environment Day in 1989.
"Over 30 years NEFA has made significant progress in its aims to protect oldgrowth, rainforest, wilderness and threatened species, unfortunately these wins are beginning to be wound back at a time when the necessity of protecting forests to avoid climate heating is more important than ever" NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.Read more
Forestry belatedly fined $16,500 for clearing and logging the exclusion zone of Endangered plant in Gibberagee
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined the Forestry Corporation $16,500 for clearing and logging within an exclusion zone for the nationally Endangered Narrow-leaf Melichrus in Gibberagee State Forest (east of Whiporie) in September 2017, though refuse to acknowledge that it was as a consequence of a NEFA complaint.
The Narrow-leaf Melichrus is named Melichrus sp. gibberagee as it is yet to be formally described. This species was discovered during pre-logging surveys brokered with the Minister for Forests by NEFA in 1997. It is only known from a single population in Gibberagee State Forest, and on adjacent private property. It is now listed as Endangered by both NSW and Commonwealth Governments.Read more
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
YOUR TAXES AT WORK!
NEFA are taking action today to bring to public attention the destruction of koala homes by the Government-owned logging corporation. NEFA has obtained satellite imagery showing the destruction of an Area of Local Koala Significance, known as a Koala Hub, in Wang Wauk State Forest on the mid-north coast.
NEFA spokesperson Susie Russell called it a crime against the future.
Koala protectors at Wang Wauk State Forest in February 2019
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The (ancestors of the) Githabul people have lived in and around the lush forests of the ranges straddling the NSW-Queensland border for tens of thousands of years. In the 1840s they were brutally dispossessed by European settlement and the waves of pastoralists, gold diggers and timber cutters who wanted the riches of their land.
In 2007, 11 years after they lodged a claim, their native title rights were recognised over nine national parks and 13 State Forests.
After years of observing that logging was causing the forest ecosystems to collapse, in 2016 the Githabul blockaded a logging operation and stopped all logging in the 29,700ha of State Forests on their country.
In August 2018 representatives of the Githabul and NSW conservation groups signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together to get the care and management of these State Forests back into Githabul hands, and undertake rehabilitation of extensive logging dieback areas.
We need your help to make this dream a reality.
We're proud to announce our Githabul Film was an official selection for the Byron All Shorts Film Festival 2019 and won a Highly Commended: Stories of Consequence and Social Impact Award. You can watch the film below.
What you can do
Become a supporter of the Githabul Return of Country campaign:
Ask any groups you are a member of to join up in supporting the MOU
Contact your local State and Federal members of parliament, and candidates for the upcoming State and Federal elections, and ask them to support the Githabul being given care and control of the State Forests subject to their native title determination in accordance with the MOU.
Contact the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian
Through her website: https://www.nsw.gov.au/contact-us/contact-the-premier/
Through facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gladysnsw/
Githabul Campaign Background
North-east New South Wales is one of the world's biodiversity hotspots with both its rainforests and eucalypt forests being identified as of World Heritage value. Its forests and their inhabitants date back for tens of millions of years to the lost continent of Gondwana.
Humans settled the region tens of thousands of years ago and for millennia lived in harmony with the environment. The first custodians of some 4,400 km2 in the upper Condamine, Logan, Clarence and Richmond River valleys, amongst the Border Ranges (separating Queensland and New South Wales), were the Githabul Tribe. They adapted themselves to the environment, with their culture and beliefs interwoven with the land, waters and wildlife. They derived their law and customs from the Nguthungali-garda (spirits of our grandfathers) which reside in significant landscape features and had many sites (jurbihls) of spiritual significance.
Their lives rapidly changed with the movement of European squatters down from the New England Tablelands in the 1840's, who forcibly and sometimes violently appropriated the land from the Githabul for their stock. Resistance was overcome. Retribution was brutal with indiscriminate killings of men, women and children, including by giving them arsenic laced flour. By 1846 most suitable country was occupied by squatters and their sheep. Their population decimated by fatal plagues of measles and smallpox, the Githabul became outcasts on their own land. Some worked for the squatters as cooks and stockmen.
Starting in the late 1850s there was a massive influx of thousands of diggers in a series of gold rushes.
In 1908 Aboriginal Reserves, termed "homes", were established at Stoney Gulley near Kyogle and at Muli Muli, near Woodenbong. There the Githabul were expected to live "on their own land" and were reported as being treated by "blundering officialdom in a callous inhuman manner", made to live in windowless and leaky "hovels" on poor rations. For a while the Githabul persisted in maintaining camps throughout the region. In 1936 the Aborigines Protection Act allowed any Aboriginal to be removed by court order to a reserve. Managers were installed, and "heathen practices" (such as corroborees) and speaking their language prohibited. In some instances families were rounded up with stockwhips. In 1940 Stoney Gulley was sold by the Welfare Board to local farmers and the Githabul moved to Muli Muli.
Initially land clearing and logging was associated with the squatters. In the 1840s Red Cedar-cutters began working their way up the rivers from the coast in search of the "red gold". Logging extended into the Border Ranges in the 1880s as Red Cedars became scarce elsewhere. Sawmills were established in the region in the early 1900s to log Hoop Pine and select rainforest species. State Forests began to be established in 1909. As Hoop Pine became scarce the Urbenville Reafforestation Project was launched in 1939 with the aim of clearfelling of rainforests on the basalt plateau and converting them into Hoop and Bunya Pine plantations. Forest clearing and logging intensity rapidly accelerated as settler populations increased, farming practices changed and technologies advanced.
In 1995 the Githabul People lodged a native title claim over 140,600 hectares of their country. It took over 11 years for the Githabul's native title rights in nine national parks and 13 state forests to be recognised by the Federal Court in 2007. An indigenous land use agreement (ILUA) between the Githabul People, the Githabul Nation Aboriginal Corporation and the NSW Government was signed in 2007. It was largely a symbolic recognition, with non-exclusive rights to hunt, fish, and gather for traditional purposes, protection of culturally significant areas, a say in management of national parks and 4 indigenous persons positions with NPWS. They were granted ownership of 102 ha of their former lands.
The ILUA only provided the Githabul with an opportunity to be consulted about the management of the State Forests. Regrettably in the wake of repeated and intensifying logging, weeds (notably lantana) have invaded and the ecological processes in large areas of the remnant forests are in collapse. The lantana smothers the understorey and stops the trees regenerating, while the altered ecosystem has favoured the native Bell Miners, allowing them to proliferate and aggressively exclude most other native species. This in turn has allowed sap-sucking insects, called psyllids, to proliferate to the point where they are draining the life out of the surviving eucalypts. Large areas of these precious forests are now in terminal decline, with seas of lantana overtopped by dead and dying trees spreading like cancer. Each logging event compounds the problems.
As logging continued and dieback expanded it became too much for the Githabul and in 2016 they blockaded a logging operation and stopped all logging in 29,700ha of State Forests on their country. They are now in dispute with the NSW Government over their ILUA.
Despite this the NSW and Commonwealth Governments are now intent on issuing Regional Forest Agreements, and Wood Supply Agreements to mill owners, to lock in logging of these publicly "owned" State Forests for the foreseeable future - ignoring the Githabul Tribe's hopes and aspirations, while guaranteeing more decades of gross mismanagement by the Forestry Corporation.
In 2018 a consortium of the Githabul Tribe and NSW Conservation groups signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the intent of:
Transferring care and control of 29,700ha State Forests for which Githabul Native Title rights are recognised, from the NSW Government to the Githabul Tribe.
Preparing a comprehensive Plan of Management to safeguard conservation and cultural values and prioritise rehabilitation works.
Obtaining State and Commonwealth funding for a comprehensive 15 year rehabilitation plan to arrest and repair forest dieback on Crown lands as part of a Githabul Caring for Country program.
Creating more NPWS positions and training for Githabul Working on Country in National Parks in the Kyogle area.
Transferring the care and control of Crown lands around the Tooloom Falls Aboriginal Place to the Githabul Tribe.
Assisting in the establishment of a Githabul Cultural and Tourism Centre on their land at Roseberry Creek.
Obtaining World Heritage Listing for qualifying National Parks in the region.
We have written to the NSW and Commonwealth Governments, and various aspiring politicians, asking them to support this initiative, which is more fully outlined in our letter to Premier Gladys Berejiklian