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Byron Shire
April 19, 2021

Protest calls for protection of Fingal Head forest

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Before and after photos of the critically endangered rainforest cleared at Fingal Head under 10/50 bushfire laws.
Before and after photos of the critically endangered rainforest cleared at Fingal Head under 10/50 bushfire laws.

A renewed push has been made to protect one of the last remaining pockets of littoral rainforest in the Tweed at Fingal Head, under threat from the controversial 10/50 vegetation-clearing code.

Environmental and community groups protested outside Tweed MP Geoff Provest’s office this week against the bushfire clearing rule, introduced in the wake of last year’s Blue Mountains fires but which have since been widely misused across the state to clearfell trees for views and development.

Last August, police and council rangers were called to a Fingal Head property after locals protested the landowner wiping out a pocket of rainforest to facilitate planned development (days after council knocked back the development plan and only weeks after the introduction of the new clearing code).

The Tweed protest was part of a statewide ‘Stop the Chop’ campaign to have the code repealed.

President of Fingal Coastcare  Kay Bolton, said the code was introduced by the NSW coalition government ‘as a knee jerk reaction to the tragic Blue Mountain’s fires, but is now being used in the Tweed and across NSW by developers and residents to clear fell treed blocks for development and views’.

‘The Tweed has one of the richest and most diverse environments in Australia which makes it such a precious place to live, but unless we act to protect that environment we will lose it,’ Ms Bolton said.

‘Fingal Head for example, holds one of the few remaining pockets of littoral rainforest in the Tweed. This needs to be protected and preserved as littoral rainforests are listed as nationally critically endangered and at risk of extinction.

‘The state government pushed these 10/50 laws through parliament without thinking what impact they will have across the rest of the state, and the impact has been devastating.’

Ms Bolton said an ecologists’ expert report on the clearing of hundreds of square metres of critically endangered littoral rainforest at Fingal Head since the law was introduced had been referred by the NSW Environmental Defenders Office to the federal environment minister for his intervention.

She said the report found the clearing has had a significant adverse impact on one of the Tweed’s last pockets of critically endangered rainforest.

‘The 10/50 laws have seen at least one other property owner at Fingal Head seek approval from the federal minister to clear rainforest trees on their land for development purposes.’

Stop the Chop campaigners at Tweed MP Geoff Provest's office protesting against his government's controversial 10/50 vegetation clearing code which has seen endangered littoral rainforest at Fingal Head wiped out.
Stop the Chop campaigners at Tweed MP Geoff Provest’s office last Friday protesting against his government’s controversial 10/50 vegetation clearing code which has seen endangered littoral rainforest at Fingal Head wiped out.

Greens MP David Shoebridge said the NSW government ‘has so badly bungled these laws that the only remaining protection is the federal minister, who must now intervene to ensure that no more critically endangered vegetation is lost’.

‘Because the land owner thought they had carte blanche to clear the land under the 10/50 laws, there was no application made and no one checking to ensure this critically endangered rainforest was protected,’ Mr Shoebridge said.

‘Council’s attempt to protect this rainforest was undone by the state government’s botched laws which have put the landowner at risk of significant costs and penalties under the Commonwealth EPBC Act.

‘It’s not just this one site that is impacted by the 10/50 laws. This appalling law is opening thousands of sites across the state to damaging clearing without any formal oversight.

‘The loss of critically endangered littoral rainforest on this single site alone is reason enough to halt the operation of the code across NSW,’ the MP said.


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  1. Up there at that place called Fingal there has been a bit of a bingle about saving the trees and the bush.
    We started to mingle and it came fast to a head at Fingal Head that we better save the limbs of the trees as we all are up to our neck into Climate Change.
    We lead with our shoulder and put our hand in our pocket for this great pocket of trees with all the green green assortment of leaves, and we pushed on up to our armpits as we rolled up higher our sleeves.
    There were birds, bugs, mosquitoes and bees living there in the wondrous trees as all those things are connected together so we protested for the environment as we are indeed on our knees. Please save the wonder of trees at Fingal for a change, instead of developing the development climate.

  2. Code 10/50 is being widely abused from Tweed right down the Eastern Coastline of NSW. Code 10/50 was ill conceived and introduced in haste. It is up to us to stand up and demand this code is withdrawn immediately and a return to the RFS assessment model. People are cutting down huge trees and spreading the chipbark all over their garden beds thus increasing their fire risk.

    I would refer anyone genuinely wanting to prepare for bushfire to read the RFS Bushfire Survival Plan http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/2933/BushFireSurvivalPlan.pdf

  3. These 10/50 laws are a direct product of Geoff Provest voting in the NSW Parliament for his govt’s bad laws. I think this point has been lost on the good folk of Fingal. Geoff will say and do anything to get through a difficult election and he will then do nothing for another 4 yr term of parliament if elected. WAKE UP Geoff Provest is the problem here!!!!!! Just like Geoff Provest supports his govt’s bad laws that will see CSG across the Northern Rivers if Baird and Provest are re-elected.

  4. I lodged a submission about 10/50 rules and have black banned the RFS for life.So much incompetence from the minister and senior management resulting inmassive flora , fauna and amenity destruction is unforgiveable as it’s a real stuff up , not a mistake.And it’s STILL going on even after some (minor) changes) were made to the legislation , which is a double stuff up. When all of the trees removed that were no actual fire risk have been replanted,and are regrown to the same size as prior to removal , i would reconsider my stance. The reality is the whole community is losing a lot of natural amenity.All this could have been avoided by the RFS having adequate checks and balances. Blind Freddy could see this , and even have proof of a significant stand of trees removed that were deemed a low fire risk by the RFS ITSELF at Arrawarra in NSW.And this is the basis of my report and proof of what i claim is happening. I also had intended to volunteer for the RFS but have decided not to as i fear such incompetence must endemic throughout the whole organisation and would be putting my personal safety at risk.


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