A 32-year-old man has been arrested for trespassing on private property adjoining Nightcap National Park.
It is the first arrest in a week-long action to protect native forest on the property, which includes core koala habitat and is believed to also include habitat of at least four other species that are threatened with extinction.
A police spokesperson told local media yesterday that the man was walking towards a site where logging of blackbutt trees was taking place by NSW Forestry subcontractors, who have entered into an arrangement with the private landowner.
Sue James from Crescent Moon Protection Group said, ‘we have told the police that it is the Forestry Corporation who are breaking the law and it is the loggers who they should be arresting, not us’.
‘The local community will not stand by and let the NSW government illegally trash the homes of our threatened species. We demand that the logging now stops while the required protections are implemented and comprehensive surveys by professionals are undertaken for threatened species,’ Ms James said.
North East Forestry Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Dailan Pugh said that it is outrageous that people are now being arrested for trying to enforce legal requirements for threatened species.
‘A brief survey on Tuesday night undertaken from adjoining properties recorded three Marbled Frogmouths, a Masked Owl, a Sooty Owl and numerous Pouched Frogs calling on the property now being logged,‘ he said.
‘All these species are threatened with extinction and it is not good enough that their habitat is being wantonly trashed,’ he added.
‘In accordance with the Private Native Forestry Code of Practice for northern NSW, continued logging by the Forestry Corporation is now illegal until they implement the required prescriptions for these species. They are logging illegally today and the police should arrest them, not local residents.
‘Before logging continues they must be made to implement the required prescriptions to establish and mark 20m buffers on all streams in the area and increase retention of the largest trees from 20 per two hectares to 30.
‘Last Friday we found that Forestry Corporation had constructed a road though what should have been an exclusion zone for the koala, and found that the Forestry Corporation were not bothering to search for koala scats and were not protecting koala high-use trees.
‘There are many other threatened animals and plants likely to occur in the area that should now be searched for by professionals. Continuing to leave it up to amateur foresters with a vested interest in not finding anything is no longer an option.
The arrested man has been granted bail to appear at Lismore Local Court in October.