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
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
The community fought hard in the late 1970s and early 1980s to protect rainforest and in the late 1980s and 1990s to protect oldgrowth forests. These were mapped in the Comprehensive Regional Assessment under the supervision of all agencies and key stakeholders in an open and transparent process involving an Old Growth Expert Panel in 1998.
Those oldgrowth forests on State Forests, above high thresholds for a combination of ecosystem, fauna, flora and Centres of Endemism reserve targets (called 'summed irreplaceability'), were identified as High Conservation Value (HCV) Oldgrowth and included in informal Reserves as part of the Comprehensive Adequate and Representative reserve system in 2000. They were counted as contributing to reserve targets for oldgrowth, forest ecosystems, and national estate in the 2000 Regional Forest Agreement.
Mapped HCV oldgrowth forests in the Upper North East are also legally protected as a heritage item under the NSW Heritage Act 1977. An additional 20,000 ha of oldgrowth was included in Special Management Zones in 2003.
As part of their new Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA) the NSW Government is intending to subject mapped oldgrowth forest and rainforest protected for the past 20 years to a review process that is intended to make large areas of oldgrowth and rainforest on State Forests available for logging. They have changed the criteria and methodology for identifying oldgrowth and rainforest.
The outcome from these multiple revisions is that of the 103,000 ha of protected oldgrowth on State forests, in the order of 58,600ha (57%) may be wiped from the map and made available for logging, with some narrow strips and patches retained within these areas. Of the 81,567ha of mapped rainforest in the order of 50, 571 hectares (62%) of mapped rainforest could be opened up for logging.
The justification for this is a claimed shortfall of 8,600 cubic metres of high quality sawlogs per annum on the north coast. This is fraudulent as the contribution of hardwood plantations to yields was removed from the calculations, turning a claimed surplus into a deficit. The claimed need to log rainforest and oldgrowth protected for the past 20 years is based on a lie.
Forestry Corporation's yield projections are so grossly and deliberately over-stated that once oldgrowth logging resumes, claims of yield shortfalls will be used to log ever-increasing areas of oldgrowth to avoid compensation claims. This does seem to be the deliberate intent.
NEFA intends to focus on this issue in an effort to stop oldgrowth and rainforest being opened up for logging.
Mapping of Oldgrowth and Rainforest on the chopping block to be logged.
- Damning report: Clearing Koalas Away.
- Read our media release
- ABC coverage here
- Changes to the Koala Logging Prescription
- Proposed Threatened Species logging rules
Explosive documents reveal Government's secret logging agenda: click here to see ABC news story
The coastal forests will be divided into 3 zones. In northern NSW:
The 140,000ha Intensive Zone will see the alternate coupe clearfell logging practiced in Eden, extended all the way along the coast from Taree to Grafton. Coupes for clearfelling are proposed to be 50 to 80 ha. The current legal limit for clearfelling in northern NSW is 0.25 ha!
The regrowth zone will allow intensive logging but will have some tree retention requirements spread across the net logging area.
The non-regrowth zone, will have slightly less intensive logging and a few extra trees retained.
The requirement for pre-logging surveys for most species will be scrapped. For example 326 species of threatened plants will lose their current legal protections and 32 will have their protection areas significantly reduced. Only 77 species and populations of threatened plants will retain their current protections.
Grevillea quadricauda photo by Hugh Nicholson
Similarly, the requirement to survey before logging for most threatened animal species will also be scrapped. 23 animal species are to have their protection removed and 26 are to have their protection significantly reduced. Only 14 will retain their current species-specific protection.
Eastern Blossum Bat photo by David Milledge
Streamside protection in the upper catchment headwaters will be more than halved (from 10m to less than 5), and other stream protections decreased, when all the evidence is that they should be increased to 30m. The current requirement for streamside logging exclusion buffers, is that they are measured from the top of the stream bank. Under the new rules, they will be measured from the middle of the stream. This means that for many streams, logging will be able to occur right up to the edge of the bank and for all streams will result in seriously diminished protection.
Most areas protected over the last 20 years because of the presence of a threatened species, will be opened up for logging. This includes all the Koala High-Use Areas that have been identified to date.
There will no longer be a requirement to search for koalas prior to logging and exclude logging from the areas they are actually using. Thus areas with active koala populations will be logged.
The areas of greatest logging intensity coincide with the areas the Government has identified as the best koala habitat.
Wood supply contract negotiations with logging companies based on the new logging rules are in process. The government remains committed to enter new wood contracts sometime soon: 'in the middle of 2017'.
All of the above is occurring with the Government promising there will be 'no erosion of environmental values'. They must think we are all idiots.
The destruction has got to stop.
We need your help, can you inform your friends and colleagues?
Authorised by Daniel Peterson for the North East Forest Alliance
at 115 Molesworth Street, Lismore, 2480
Githabul Tribe and Conservation Groups Reach Historic Agreement
The Githabul Tribe, Githabul Nation Aboriginal Corporation, Githabul Elders and representatives of conservation groups today launched their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the management of Githabul Native Title Lands in the upper Clarence and Richmond Rivers.
On 29 November 2007 the Federal Court of Australia made a consent determination recognising the Githabul People’s Native Title rights and interests over 1120 sq km in 9 National Parks and 13 State Forests.
The MoU proposes:
- · 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.
- · Achieving an adequately funded comprehensive 15 year rehabilitation plan to arrest and repair forest dieback 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.
- · Promoting the establishment of a Cultural and Tourism Centre at Roseberry Creek.
- · Obtaining World Heritage Listing for the National Parks in the region.
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
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world; indeed,
it's the only thing that ever has."
- Logging Dieback
- Climate Change
- Cable Logging
- Logging Prescriptions
- Forest Slaughter
- Old Trees
- Logging Industry
- World Heritage
- Impacts of Grazing
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