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Byron Shire
September 21, 2021

Forestry Corp reneges on promised NEFA inspection

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A forest protector offers water to 74-year-old Alan Roberts locked on to logging equipment last week in an effort to halt the destruction of koala habitat. Photo NEFA

Long-time North Coast forest protector Dailan Pugh said he is ‘at my wits end’ after the NSW Forestry Corporation yesterday failed to honour an agreement that saw an end to activists occupying Gibberagee state forest last week.

That agreement would have seen an onsite inspection today with both Forestry and the EPA of a series of NEFA-audited failures to protect forest habitat while logging.

Mr Pugh described the backdown as ‘a new low’ for the state government body, which over a decade has openly flouted rules designed to protect koalas and eight hollow-dwelling forest animals.

EPA fail

He is also angry at government changes that have turned the EPA into a toothless tiger.

Since 2016, ‘for purely political reasons, they have stopped even handing out fines,’ he told Echonetdaily, and they wait up to two years to publish their investigations of our audits.

Outraged at Forestry’s ongoing illegal practices that are pushing endangered species closer to extinction, forest protectors gathered at Gibberagee last Wednesday (February 13).

After a day of protesting, including a lock-on to forestry equipment, NEFA proposed to on-site harvesting manager Dale Mclean that people would leave if the Forestry Corporation would allow NEFA to show them and the EPA the breaches it had documented within a week.

Broken promise

‘During an open phone call with the Forestry Corporation’s senior production manager Mike Farrow, Dale acknowledged that they agreed to a site inspection within a week with NEFA, and the EPA if they agreed, to inspect the breaches we had identified.

‘It was also agreed that we could then show them a koala high use tree we had identified so they could do the required search, and that an unlogged 5.5ha area we had audited would not be logged until after the joint inspection.

‘We took them at their word, so that afternoon the person unlocked himself from the machine, people packed-up and left and we showed Forestry the koala high use tree,’ he said.

So much for promises.

Minister ignores appeals

It’s not the first time NEFA has been let down over Gibberagee

‘Two years ago members were ordered out of the forest by the Forestry Corporation after being invited in by the EPA to show them the breaches they had found.
‘The illegal logging continued unabated. The EPA then waited until logging had been over for more than a year before confirming our complaints, and taking meaningless regulatory action

‘Our appeal to [NSW environment minister] Gabrielle Upton to stop the illegal logging of koala habitat at Gibberagee has so far been in vain’ he said.

Mr Pugh added that despite the decade of infractions NEFA was still prepared to take Forestry officers at their word – until yesterday.

‘It is hard to know what to do after this,’ he said. ‘People are getting very angry.’


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4 COMMENTS

  1. Am not surprised they didn’t honour their word.. They will say anything they need to, to not be held accountable for the wanton destruction they havoc on the forest, its inhabitants and future generations.. When apparent feigned integrity is modus operandi little else can be expected. .. Somehow they need to be held accountable. ..

  2. I would be totally amazed if Forestry Corporation or any polititian showed any interest in trees (other than for logging), koalas or any other wildlife. I despair for the natural world and future generations. A very depressing scenario.

  3. Good onya Dailan! Just keep doing what you’re doing and you will outlast the destroyers.
    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Meade

  4. This is so sad! They seemed so sincere With the offer. Yet another painful example of damaged trust. I believe in small groups of peddling anything but when profit is put Vegie before everything else I do not know how to keep being hopeful for our future generations.

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