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March 7, 2021

EPA approves logging road

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Koala high-use trees along the new road at Whian Whian marked for logging. Photo Mel Hargraves
Koala high-use trees along the new road at Whian Whian marked for logging. Photo Mel Hargraves

Chris Dobney

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has approved the construction of a new road through old-growth forest at Whian Whian to enable logging in an area surrounded by endangered species.

On Monday Echonetdaily revealed the planned road would run through a grove of critically endangered Bopple Nut trees.

But the EPA says it has discussed the issue with the Forestery Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) and the organisation is ‘aware of it its responsibilities’.

It added the Corporation was ‘now considering its operations in light of the reported threatened species’.

Echonetdaily understands an adjacent landowner has withdrawn permission for the use of their road to access the logging site.

During heavy rains last week, existing forestry roads were heavily eroded, according to a group of local concerned residents from Crescent Moon Protection Group.

Together with the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA), Crescent Moon have been calling on the EPA to intervene after discovering a range of threatened flora and fauna on the property.

But the EPA, whose officers visited the site last week and again yesterday, told Echonetdaily that logging is approved under a private native forestry property vegetation plan (PNF PVP) issued by the organisation on November 29 last year.

‘EPA officers visited the property on September 19 to carry out an inspection to assess threatened species prescriptions and to ensure the Forestry Corporation of NSW is aware of its responsibilities,’ a spokesperson told Echonetdaily.

‘FCNSW is now considering its operations in light of the reported threatened species. FCNSW must apply the relevant prescriptions as required by the PNF Code of Practice for Northern NSW.

‘The EPA is aware that FCNSW may now need to construct a few hundred metres of new road in order to access the site, which is permitted under the PNF Code of Practice provided relevant prescriptions to protect known threatened species are applied.

‘The EPA has received additional reports of threatened species on the site since the inspection on 19 September. EPA officers carried out a site inspection yesterday (Tuesday September 24) and discussed these matters with FCNSW to ensure it understands the requirements of the PNF Code of Practice in relation to the construction of a road.

‘The EPA understands the community interest in these activities and will continue to monitor compliance with the Code of Practice.’

Environment minister Robyn Parker says she has faith in the EPA.

‘The EPA has, absolutely, my confidence,’ she told ABC radio this morning.

‘They are, under our government, a standalone statutory authority. They have more approvals… more opportunity to get in and be the watchdog instead of the lapdog that they were under the former government.’

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  1. ‘They are, under our government, a standalone statutory authority. They have more approvals… more opportunity to get in and be the watchdog instead of the lapdog that they were under the former government.’ WELL OBVIOUSLY THEY’RE NOT DOING THEIR JOB PROPERLY. MORE SPIN & LIES FOR THE LIBERALS WHO ARE EXPERTS LIARS

  2. I’m appalled at the EPA’s apparent disregard to threatened species protection and conservation. The minister for the environments tai chi like evasion of the core issue in order to get her morning coffee is sickening. Kudos to the crescent moon protectors and NEFA, when our own EPA is failing on this issue.

  3. People who “own” forest lands or bush blocks have aquired their “title” as the most recent result of a corrupt and feudal system many hundreds of years old. Even Henry VIII, the so called King of England, was the son of a local Tudor warlord who wrested the monarchy and huge land titles by force of arms from the previous Plantaganet warlord/king. With the forced complience of thousands of peasants.

    The issue is that ‘land ownership’ does not mean anyone has the right to destroy environment or take actions that threaten the survival of another species; be it Koalas or Bopple Trees.
    The Community as a whole has a responsibility to the Earth and a Duty of Care and Stewardship.

  4. The whole site has had an onsite Old Growth and Rainforest Assessment (see http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/pnf/index.htm#oldgrowth). No old growth areas were found. 5.3ha of rainforest was found and is protected. The road already existed on site. The bopple nut trees were identified well before trespassers were on site, yet they are claiming the ‘discovery’. The EPA would not approve reduction in the extent of old growth forest.

  5. The site is entirely regrowth – it has been harvested before. The site has good environmental values, which are an indication of previous land management strategies, including forestry. Waterways are protected. Steep areas are protected. Rainforest areas are protected. Valuable habitat trees are protected. The road runs over an existing road. Regeneration is planned with over 2000 seedlings from local Whian Whian seed stock growing in a nursery to be planted, post-harvest.

    Please report some of those details – they are facts. See also (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-24/epa-whian/4977632?&section=news)

  6. Both the state and federal Coalition see the environment as only an obstacle to getting rich quick. Neither understand the importance of biodiversity in providing environmental services. Labour in government was little better and although offering platitudes did not progress conservation issues. For instance Tony Burke the ex Environment Minister finally put the koala on the threatened species list but failed to protect any koala habitat. Tony Windsor approached Tony Burke on my behalf regarding a logging operation near Dorrigo where over 300 hectares of habitat for 34 threatened species including high quality habitat for koalas was approved for heavy logging. This was just after Burke’s koala announcement. He did nothing.

    So it’s not just Liberal or Labour because both have scant regard for threatened species let alone the environment. It really does highlight the need for conservation on private property because governments are ruthless and won’t be deterred from production by any mere threatened species. What chance has a threatened snake or frog got when koalas get only lip service? A good point was made about the fact we own some rights over property but not the right to destroy threatened species at whim. The Duty of Care principle seems long gone in modern forestry that is logging higher volumes right now than previously possible.

    The EPA is hopelessly neutered by Government’s ‘economy, economy, economy at all costs’ mantra. It’s hard not to do so but it is important to remember many EPA and even FCNSW on-ground staff would like things to be different but are limited to the relevant legislation and diligence/priorities of their seniors. It’s a disconcerting thing to comprehend the level of deliberation, coordination and old boys club mentality that is being applied to environmental destruction. It has reached the point where the community needs to start guiding government trajectory as they are indeed ‘fiddling while Rome burns’

    The bottom line here is that what I would regard as a ‘proper’ environmental assessment wasn’t carried out until the community complained and surprise surprise EPA rolls over. I’m afraid this is business as usual for FCNSW and EPA who are often caught out like this evidenced by the many cases on the record. They seem to have never properly reconciled that protection of important ecological values are just as much a part of their legislative role as production of timber.

    The sad fact is old growth is still targeted and was cut from this site. Whether it is or isn’t regrowth doesn’t matter so much as habitat for threatened species has been degraded. In my experience the token habitat trees left are often left with a single bit of understory under those trees, or an inadequate number of closely neighboring trees like those needed for gliders. Those 2000 plants mentioned in the story (‘EPA approves logging road’ in Echonetdaily) will be hardwood species, planted in rows and I bet they will not include bopplenut or understory shrubs.

    Ecotones where two different ecosystems meet have particularly high biodiversity value as species from both ecosystems inhabit them. Because of this fact simply stating ‘rainforest has been protected’ does not mean important environmental values aren’t being trashed or that an adequate buffer to rainforest applied. It is a fact that many rainforest fauna species including Spot-tailed Quolls, Sooty Owls and Masked Owls rely on large hollow eucalypts either in or adjacent rainforest. Considering Australia’s pathetic record for mammal extinctions it is fiction indeed to think we are protecting threatened species adequately.


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