A vote of ‘no confidence’ in the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has been carried by the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) following revelations that the EPA propose to approve widespread clear-felling of public forests in north-east NSW, reduce protection of headwater streams, and remove the need to protect habitat for many Threatened species, including the Koala.

“The EPA are proposing a major intensification of logging of our publicly owned native forests. At the extreme, the EPA are proposing that 143,000 ha of coastal forests from Grafton to Taree be zoned for intensive clear-felling. While the current rules theoretically limit clear-felling to 0.25 ha patches which can't be logged again for 28 years, the new rules allow clear-felling of 60 ha patches with more logging 10 years later",  NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh, said today.
"Rather than establishing plantations on already cleared lands they intend to covert our native forests to short-rotation crops,” he said.
"It is apparent from these outrageous proposals that the NSW EPA has caved into the Forestry Corporation and ignored their statutory obligation to protect the environment and ensure logging is ecologically sustainable” Mr Pugh said.
"Most exclusion areas established around known locations of threatened animals will no longer need to be identified, and areas already identified will be opened for logging.  We have had to battle both the EPA and the Forestry Corporation to meet their legal obligations to identify and protect Koala High Use Areas, now the EPA intend to remove any requirement to look for Koalas or protect their homes from logging,” he said.
"This means that the extensive Koala High Use Areas we identified for the endangered Koala population at Royal Camp will no longer be protected and will be opened up for logging again.
"The EPA are also intending to reduce current exclusion zones around our vital headwater streams from 10 to 5 metres, contrary to overwhelming evidence that these buffers should be increased to 30 metres,” said Mr Pugh
"Trials of the EPA's new rules are being implemented now, while the impacts of the new rules on timber supply are being closely monitored there is no attempt being made to assess the impacts on plants, animals or streams. This is an abrogation of the EPA's duty and responsibilities",
"The EPA have failed to ensure that the Forestry Corporation comply with current laws, but their capitulation to the Forestry Corporation's decades of criminal activities by changing the laws to condone it is institutionalising environmental vandalism ", Mr. Pugh said.

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