High profile environmentalists and Terania Creek veterans Dailan Pugh and Nan Nicholson are among four people to have locked on in Gibberagee State Forest this morning in a show of strength against the NSW Forestry Corporation.
They are among a number of people who are again gathering in the forest, east of Whiporie, to express their concerns over illegal logging of koala habitat and make a last-ditch appeal to the premier to intervene.
Late last month, the Forestry Corporation walked away from an agreement to inspect high-use koala areas at Gibberagee together with members of North East Forest Alliance (NEFA), who had performed an audit revealing serious breaches.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is investigating the matter but on recent form is unlikely to report within two years and will not issue even a token fine to the government-owned Forestry Corporation.
Echonetdaily spoke to NEFA’s Dailan Pugh at the site.
‘It’s quiet here at the moment,’ he said at around midday.
‘Loggers turned up at 5.30am and turned around.
‘Foresters came an hour or so ago but didn’t want to talk to us. They’re hanging around down the road but we’re not sure what they’re up to.’
Mr Pugh said NEFA had offered to employ a scat detection dog to look for koala scats ‘but they wouldn’t commit to accepting that offer’.
Protesters staying put
Asked how long the group was prepared to stay locked on, Mr Pugh said, ‘I think we’re playing it as it unfolds. We’re prepared to stay here longer and force some action.
We’ve been asking the government to move for weeks – well, actually years!
‘We’ve tried the minister, we asked the premier the other day in Lismore – none of them care.
‘We’ve identified [NSW Forestry Corp] are not looking for scats. We’ve found widespread evidence of koalas and they’re still not doing anything about it.’
He said it was absurd that the government were ‘willing to throw all of this money at koalas but they’re not addressing the problem’.
‘They could fix this by the stroke of a pen by telling the Forestry Corporation to do what they’re legally obliged to do [ie looking for koala scats].
‘Someone has to uphold the law when the government refuses to.
‘The EPA are just a smokescreen for the Forestry Corporation’s illegal logging,’ he said.
Save koalas rally
Meanwhile, the Nature Conservation Council (NCC) held a rally in Lismore on Sunday, March 3, to coincide with World Wildlife Day.
More than 100 people attended with members of NCC Friends of the Koala and NEFA speaking.