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Byron Shire
September 21, 2021

EPA ‘must stop illegal logging’

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A rare and endangered BoppleNut Tree in flower, tagged by NEFA campaigners, is one of 30 Bopple Nut trees in a grove with the proposed logging road marked through the centre of it.
A rare and endangered Bopple Nut tree in flower, tagged by NEFA campaigners, is one of a grove of 30 Bopple Nut trees, with the proposed logging road marked to run through the centre of the stand.

The Environment Protection Authority has been urged to stop the Forestry Corporation’s ongoing illegal logging operations on private property at Whian Whian, adjacent to Nightcap National Park.

The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has requested the EPA’s chief executive officer, Barry Buffier, to immediately impose a stop-work order on the forestry agency.

NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh says the request comes after the finding on the weekend of eight koala high-use trees, over 60 vulnerable Red Bopple Nuts and 10 vulnerable Arrowhead Vines in the vicinity of a road that the Forestry Corporation intend to construct today, Monday.

‘The Forestry Corporation has show breathtaking contempt for threatened species and the legal requirements of the Private Native Forestry Code of Practice for Northern NSW,’ Mr Pugh said.

‘Because they refused to implement the required prescriptions, they have been logging illegally since we reported records of the Marbled Frogmouth, Sooty Owl and Masked Owl last Wednesday.

‘We have already found roading within what should have been exclusion zones for koalas and now the vulnerable Arrowhead Vine.

‘Their new road is marked to pass through the middle of a grove of more than 30 Red Bopple Nuts and a number of koala high-use trees.

‘The Forestry Corporation’s ongoing refusal to search for koala scats and failure to protect high-use areas is outrageous.

‘The Red Bopple Nut is one of the most easily recognised threatened plant species. It is inconceivable that a trained forester could have missed them, let alone marked a new road through the centre of a grove in full flower without seeing them.

‘The flowers and their strong heavenly scent, along with the huge lobed leaves, are unmistakable.

‘It appears that Forestry Corporation deliberately ignored these species because they refuse to allow threatened species to hinder their logging.

‘This wanton killing of threatened species must be stopped.

‘It is a clear breach of the Private Native Forestry Code of Practice for Northern NSW, and thus the Native Vegetation Act, for the Forestry Corporation to log or road in this area until the required 20-metre exclusion zones are marked around streams for the Marbled Frogmouth, all the koala high-use trees and all the localities of threatened plants.

‘Given the Forestry Corporation’s ongoing refusal to meet their legal obligations, the chief executive officer of the EPA must issue an urgent stop-work order in accordance with Section 37 of the Native Vegetation Act 2003,’ Mr Pugh said.

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  1. Just emailed the following letter to the Senior Operations Officer at EPA Grafton; will forward to minister as mentioned in the letter; and would urge others to write something to them too: “Kelvin Christiansen,
    Senior Operations Officer,
    Private Native Forestry,
    Environmental Protection Authority,
    (02) 66402551
    (0458) 477 642
    [email protected]

    Dear Kelvin,

    I write in follow-up to our email communication last week regarding a logging dispute at Whian Whian in north-east NSW.

    My observation is that this dispute occurred because the EPA, in approving the Private Native Forestry (PNF) Property Vegetation Plan (PVP) for the property in question, did not ensure that adequate surveying took place to find out what, if any, threatened flora and/or fauna species were present on the property.

    Concerned members of the community have since taken action to ensure that some surveying for threatened flora and fauna species on the property took place. The result is that several species of threatened flora and fauna were located on the property.

    Consequently, the EPA needs to stop the logging operation on this property, and ensure that an adequate level of surveying for threatened flora and fauna species on the property takes place (if the surveying done to date has been insufficient). In any case, the EPA needs to review the approved PNF PVP for this property, and ensure it is amended to protect the threatened species located on the property. If need be (to protect the threatened species located on the property) the EPA should revoke this PNF PVP.

    In coming to this decision, the EPA needs to also consider:
    1. Whether this PNF PVP actually relates to logging of rainforest – whilst I have not personally seen the site, photographs from the site that I have seen suggest that the site may be appropriately classified as rainforest, or that rainforest must be traversed to access the area proposed to be logged; and
    2. Whether logging operations already commenced on the property really should have been assessed under the provisions for a Clearing PVP, not as a PNF PVP.

    At the bigger picture (state-wide) level, I contend that this whole situation illustrates:
    1. The need for threatened species surveying to become an integral part of the assessment process for PNF PVPs – that is, for threatened species surveying (by EPA staff or an independent, accredited ecologist, with demonstrated knowledge of species found in the ecosystem type in which they are surveying) to become a mandatory requirement for a PNF PVP approval to be issued – at least in the (more biodiverse) Central and Eastern divisions of NSW; and
    2. The need for PNF PVPs to be assessed in the same way as Clearing PVPs are assessed – using the biometric assessment tool linked to the NSW Land Management Database that is used for assessing Clearing PVPs. This would ensure that assessing staff already know very clearly, upon arrival at a site they are going to for PVP assessment purposes, exactly which threatened species they may encounter on the site. That way they are much less likely to not survey for these species due to lack of knowledge that they may exist on the site.
    In relation to these two bigger picture issues I will forward a copy of this letter to the minister to bring my concerns to their attention and to seek their response.

    I hope that the EPA can learn lessons from the events of the past week in north-east NSW, and make the changes required to ensure that there is better protection of threatened species where PNF operations occur, and less conflict within the community going forward.

    For consideration.

    Sincerely (signed and dated, with contacts)”

  2. So who is supposed to stop this ? Isn’t it an offense ? Is it jail-able ? who the hell isn’t doing there job to stop the Forestry Corporation ? Oh there it is they are a corporation that is part of the NSW government which is a registered corporation under the US Exchange and Securities Commission so it is said .. Corporations like the mining companies they don’t care …

  3. Contrary to common knowledge threatened species get little more consideration than the common brushtail possum does. Although Australia has an international obligation to protect threatened species the Australian Government (both Labour & Coalition) has given little more than lip service which is reflected in the lack of rigor to pre-logging surveying for threatened species, applying Prescriptions under the Threatened Species Conservation Act to protect and regulation by EPA.

    In essence, if a threatened species GPS record for that location doesn’t exist and none are located in a survey, none exist. This doesn’t take into account the time of year which will obviously deprive migratory species or localized patterns of movement by fauna. It is currently routine practice to have over 30 threatened fauna species to be considered in fauna surveys with only a couple considered in the plan. So an important habitat tree for say a Brush-tailed Phascogale might be left but without understory or other trees needed for survival.

    Tony Burke banged on about the urgency of acting to protect threatened species when he put the koala on the list of threatened species list but failed to protect any koala habitat. This type of incompetence/ willful ignorance cannot be allowed to manage natural resources without serious consequences including extinction though it seems this is the trajectory Koalas and other TS’s now face.

    The term ‘threatened species’ itself has become a meaningless ecotourism tag that advertises a holiday location. Many uninformed Australians jump to whinge about locking up national parks and make derogatory comments about conservation without understanding how dire the situation actually is.Only when they start to topple in the next few years will the term threatened species get attention which by then may be too late.

    We may prefer to be distracted by other things but threatened species drive through ecosystem services the same ecosystems we need for our survival and happiness. The only way things will ever change is when more Australians understand that conservation is a legitimate land-use that we all benefit from. It is a matter where the wider public needs to speak up and help guide political decision making.


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