The NSW parliament has been shown graphic evidence of illegally logged old-growth forest on the far north coast, with photos of huge stumps over two metres wide shocking MPs who saw them.
North Coast MLC Jan Barham this week tabled the photographs of the devastation on six hectares of old-growth forest in the Koreelah State Forest near the NSW-Queensland border, showing massive trees had been felled which were supposed to be protected.
Ms Barham has called on the government to take action against the logging of the ‘irreplaceable’ trees, saying their destruction is ‘a travesty’.
She says a further 17 hectares of old-growth forest is at risk from planned operations.
‘The government must investigate and announce what action it will take to protect the biodiversity and heritage of our old growth forests from any further planned destruction,’ she said.
Environment minister Robyn Parker’s officer is yet to respond to Echonetdaily’s request for comment.
The photographs were taken during a recent inspection by the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA), and show the aftermath of intensive logging that has felled trees approaching 2.5 metres in diameter.
Ms Barham said that when she tabled the photos during question time on Wednesday, many MPs were shocked ‘at the size of these trees which had been recently logged, it was so powerful’.
She said ‘the forest provides habitat for threatened species and its destruction creates a risk of invasive species such as lantana taking hold.
‘I’m utterly shocked to see evidence that the destruction of old-growth forests is still happening. The public puts its trust in government to preserve and protect our natural environment. The loss of these great forests is like stealing from future generations.’
The incident is the latest in a series of illegal logging events throughout protected areas of the state’s north-eastern forests in the past few years.
Illegal logging operations in these forests have wiped out koala habitat, threatened an endangered bird almost to extinction and now, cutting down the forest’s oldest living specimens.
Late last year, logging in Royal Camp State Forest, southwest of Casino, was halted following revelations in Echonetdaily that core koala habitat was being axed.
NEFA wrote to the state ministers responsible for the areas, calling on them to take urgent action to stop the illegal logging by Forests NSW.
The environmental group asked that the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) prosecute Forests NSW for ‘their failure to meet their legal obligations to protect koalas and other threatened species’.
Prior to that incident, NEFA had also urged the state government to stop illegal logging of Rufous Scrub-bird habitat in Styx River State Forest, east of Armidale, calling for an independent inquiry when it was found that Forests NSW had falsely claimed that suitable habitat for the bird did not exist.
NEFA has also complained that the environment and primary industries ministers have been slow to act on their complaints, and illegal logging continues unabated.
Campaigners say Forests NSW is a ‘rogue government agency’ which is ‘openly flouting the law’ and NEFA has previously called on the federal government to intervene on illegal logging, but also to no avail.
NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh, has often said the state ‘is not protecting old-growth forest, rainforest, endangered ecological communities and endangered species’.