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Byron Shire
May 19, 2021

EPA drag feet on illegal logging by Forestry Corporation

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A photo of the clearing and roading in the exclusion zone of the endangered Melichrus, as provided by NEFA to the EPA on 4 October 2017. The arrows show the boundary. Photo supplied.

Illegal logging and clearing by the Forestry Corporation within an exclusion zone for the nationally Endangered Narrow-leaf Melichrus in Gibberagee State Forest (east of Whiporie) was reported to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in September 2017. Yet it took 18 months for the EPA to finally issue a formal warning for breaches of habitat tree retention requirements.

‘On Wednesday (10 April 2019), eighteen months later, the EPA responded to our complaint… though they made no mention of the intrusion into the Melichrus exclusion zone,’ said Dailan Pugh from North East Forest Alliance (NEFA).

The Narrow-leaf Melichrus is named Melichrus sp. gibberagee as it is yet to be formally described. This species was discovered during pre-logging surveys brokered with the Minister for Forests by NEFA in 1997. It is only known from a single population in Gibberagee State Forest, and on adjacent private property. It is now listed as Endangered by both NSW and Commonwealth Governments. Photo supplied.

‘It is only because we queried them about this omission that they told us that they had fined the Forestry Corporation $16,500 for the Melichrus breach a week ago.

‘NEFA are incredulous that the EPA refused to acknowledge NEFA’s complaint regarding this breach or mention the fine in their response. They are intent on denying it had anything to do with our complaint.

‘In the same logging area on 8 February and 29 March 2017 NEFA had reported to the EPA a total of eight cases of illegal roading within Melichrus buffers, often within a few metres of the plants, and six cases of logging operations extending up to 22m within what should have been 50m exclusion zones.

‘It wasn’t until January 2019 that the EPA responded to those complaints, issuing two official cautions for not marking the Melichrus exclusion zones, and roading and logging within them. They also issued two warning letters in response to our complaints of failing to protect appropriate habitat trees and 23 instances of recklessly damaging them.

‘The issuing of only a single fine for multiple breaches that continued to occur for seven months after they were first identified is outrageous. They should have been fined for each breach in a timely manner, then maybe they would have stopped earlier,’ said Mr Pugh.


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6 COMMENTS

  1. It had nothing to do with your complaint?
    Therefore they ignored your complaint. Isn’t that illegal to ignore complaints?
    The ICAC needs to be called in for ignoring complaints.

  2. Disgraceful. Sad times we live in and ones where the good folk (and older folk at that) have to get out in the bush to personally protect said protected trees, and then be treated like criminals.
    I truly fear for the plight of NSW forests and species.

  3. Dailan & others THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart (broken heart) for your enduring & persistent passion in defending our endangered remnant native forests. How disgusting that in over 50 yrs the Forestry Dept has lied & denied and acted illegally without any serious fines/prosecutions etc The Env Min should be sacked (jailed would be justice) and if we had a serious democracy our hopeless Premier would be a guest in Her Majesty’s prison for not upholding their own laws & governance. Totally outrageous that as usual conservationists & community activists are FORCED to put their bodies on the line , out of public view. Very dangerous indeed , I saw first hand the violence loggers perpetrated against non violent citizens in the Sth East Forest years ago. Nothing has changed in decades (except we have so much less forests) and that’s because people are generally politically ignorant or sadly just don’t give a damn.

  4. Who are these managers in the EPA and how are they still employed when they consistently fail to do what is not only in their job description, but implement community expectations? They are the guardians of last resort for our flora and fauna and they are failing, recalcitrant and appear disinterested.

    Same could be said of the operations managers in Forestry. And logging contractors. Why the need to continually push the boundaries especially when they claim sustainability. Why are these contracts not cancelled for continual breaches? Or is this the norm with government contractors?

  5. Nothing surprises me anymore – disappoints me yes. Those in authority such as EPA don’t seem to care about anything. I fear for the younger generations who will inherent a damaged environment and loss of many species. Please do your job EPA.

  6. It took the EPA 2 years to complete an investigation into breaches in my local forest. The outcome? 2 warning notices issued! In one breach FCNSW contractors constructed an illegal road between a stream and a rocky outcrop within their exclusion zones – and they did it so they could get better access to trees. FCNSW treat the EPA as joke!

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