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Byron Shire
June 16, 2024

Anti-forestry group ejected from audit of endangered trees

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NEFA auditor Dailan Pugh at Gibberagee State Forest. Photo Jimmy Malecki
NEFA auditor Dailan Pugh at Gibberagee State Forest. Photo Jimmy Malecki

A representative of the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) was ejected from a meeting that he called with the Environment Protection Authority at Gibberagee State Forest after it was ‘gatecrashed by the Forestry Corporation’.

NEFA auditor Dailan Pugh said he was invited to Gibberagee by the EPA on Friday (March 10) so that he could show them logging was taking place into what were meant to be exclusion zones around the nationally Endangered Narrow-leaved Melichrus, which only occurs at Gibberagee.

But he was directed to leave by the Forestry Corporation without being allowed to show the EPA anything.

Narrow-leaf Melichrus is a small shrub, about 1 m tall. It is identified that it is only known from a single population in compartment 118, Gibberagee State Forest, and adjacent private property, about 40 km south of Casino. The entire population occurs over an area of around 1 km². Photo Jimmy Malecki
Narrow-leaf Melichrus is a small shrub, about 1 m tall. It is identified that it is only known from a single population in compartment 118, Gibberagee State Forest, and adjacent private property, about 40 km south of Casino. The entire population occurs over an area of around 1 km². Photo Jimmy Malecki

‘A month ago I sent the EPA a complaint after identifying that the Forestry Corporation were refusing to identify the legally required buffers around the Endangered plant Narrow-leaf Melichrus,’ Mr Pugh told Echonetdaily.

He added they were ‘recklessly damaging hollow-bearing and recruitment trees, and logging “unmapped” streams in the immediate catchment of the regionally significant seagrass beds of The Broadwater.’

‘Bryce Gorham of the EPA invited me to come out to the forest last Friday “to accurately identify (on ground identification) of the alleged breach of intrusion into a Melichrus sp.Giberagee exclusion zone”,’ he said.

‘I expected that the EPA would only invite me if they had the authority to do so.

‘The EPA were late, so while waiting I looked around, finding two more places where logging had extended into what were meant to be 50m exclusion zones around Narrow-leaf Melichrus, in one case by 22m.

‘When the EPA belatedly arrived they had a Forestry Corporation employee, Jamie Churchill, with them.

‘He told me to leave the forest on the grounds of occupational health and safety. I insisted that I had been invited into the forest by the EPA and that, in the area where we were, logging had finished some three months ago so we were not interfering with an active operation and there were no safety issues.’

Mr Pugh said he told both the EPA and Forestry Corporation that he had just found another legal breach nearby, and asked to at least be able to show it to them.

But, he added, the Forestry Corporation refused ‘and the EPA went along with them’.

‘After driving two hours to get there I was forced to leave without being allowed to show the EPA anything.

‘The EPA should never have invited me if they don’t have the authority to stand up to Forestry Corporation bullying.

‘Given that I located more breaches so quickly I have no doubt that there are many more to be found. The reason I was asked to leave had nothing to do with health and safety, the Forestry Corporation did not want me showing the EPA breaches I had found, let alone finding more’ Mr Pugh said.

He added that while the logging of unmapped streams (about half of all headwater streams) is legally permitted ‘because the Forestry Corporation is allowed to ‘switch-off’ their Environmental Protection Licence,’ he had asked Fisheries NSW to intervene over a month ago ‘because of the danger of sediments from the logging smothering the regionally significant seagrass beds seven kilometre downstream in The Broadwater.

But he said nothing had been done.

‘Logging of stream banks should never have been allowed in the headwaters of The Broadwater, to do so is environmental vandalism, the buffers should have been doubled in such a significant area, not removed’ Mr Pugh said.

See the Gibberagee audit here.

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  1. NSW Forestry is a criminal organisation, but has many friends and accomplices in high places. NSW politicians are quite aware of the criminal actions of Forestry Corporation but like the disaster being caused by cane and cattle, which are killing the Great Barrier Reef and the local toxic run-off from macadamias poisoning our local estuaries, no-body can see any problem . “there are none so blind as those who will not see !”
    Do YOU see ? G”)

  2. how disgusting. only hope Dailan was able to get photos and GPS co-ordinates of the illegal clearing. If they could be presented to EPA with witnessed and documented evidence of it being delivered and received by EPA, a parliamentarian might be willing to call a spade a spade. Dailan and others like him are brave people. Thank you for this article Echo.

    I agree that clearing around waterways should require approvals and scrutiny of licence given by some independent body. Given the huge amount of land available to Forestry, why they have to go for that bit extra is down to vandalism.

  3. NEFA was pro sustainable logging but many conservation groups have voted to lobby for an end of logging in publicly owned native forests. It’s a shame it has come to this but ongoing breaches of compliance and a steady decline of threatened species have prompted for this call for an end of logging. The cost to taxpayers with Forestry Corporation operating at loss most of the time is another factor. The Koala was federally listed as vulnerable in NSW a few years ago and that is mainly due to habitat loss. The one thing that really disturbed me was when Forestry Corporation buried Wombats alive. This sort of behaviour should not be allowed to continue using tax payers money! http://www.nwc.org.au/wombats-buried-alive/

    Find out more at the NEFA website: http://www.nefa.org.au

  4. With the Richmond River getting a D- in the health department, I would hope that Forestry Corp would adhere to the sensible regulations specified in their contracts, that protect our rivers and streams. This is not acceptable.


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