Bungabbee Forest sits midway between Lismore, Casino and Kyogle – right near Bentley. Bungabbee is a little known environmental gem of the Northern Rivers.
Bungabbee is home to many threatened species. It forms part of the Mackellar Wildlife Corridor, connecting to the World Heritage Border Ranges. It is an area of outstanding biodiversity value in an extensively cleared landscape.
If this place is so wonderful, why is the NSW Forestry Corporation are planning to conduct logging here in April 2021?
Twenty-seven threatened species
Twenty-seven threatened species have been previously recorded from this vicinity, including Koalas, Glossy Black Cockatoos, Powerful Owls, Yellow Bellied Gliders, Squirrel Gliders, Greater Gliders. Parma Wallabies and Red-legged Pademelons. As well as the critically endangered Scrub Turpentine, and three endangered flora species: Rainforest Cassia, Tinospora Vine, and Native Jute.
The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) recently organised a weekend survey by botanists and zoologists that additionally revealed the previously unknown presence of two vulnerable animals – Long-nosed Potoroo and Marbled Frogmouth – and the Critically Endangered Native Guava, along with localities of 175 threatened plants.
NEFA Spokesperson Dailan Pugh said finding a large unknown outlying population of the regionally endemic Marbled Frogmouth is exciting. ‘This is one of only a handful of species that the Forestry Corporation is still required to protect additional habitat for, though in this case there is no requirement to look before they log.
‘Luckily we did.’
Scrub Turpentine and Native Guava unlikely to regenerate
Mr Pugh said that it was particularly disturbing to find significant populations of the Critically Endangered Scrub Turpentine and Native Guava. ‘The very survival of these species is threatened by the introduced fungus Myrtle Rust, they are unlikely to regenerate and now the Forestry Corporation are intending to bulldoze over the survivors.
‘Our results clearly demonstrate the need for pre-logging surveys to identify the presence and locations of threatened species so they can be appropriately protected”
‘More surveys are required to identify other threatened species and their localities.’
Mr Pugh said that Bungabbee is of significant recreational value and is utilised by bush walkers, horse riders and mountain bike riders. ‘The proposed rail trail passes within a few kilometres of Bungabee, which would provide a cluster of trails perfect for those seeking more challenging cycling experiences,’ he said.
Renata Phelps has been working with a team of locals to share information and organise future actions. ‘The local community is strongly opposed to the logging and are taking a pro-active stance lobbying against the proposed actions,’ she said.
Residents feel a residual sense of affinity to Bentley
‘Bentley is an area that many Northern Rivers residents feel a residual sense of affinity to, after our iconic community win against CSG drilling in 2014.
‘With an increased emphasis on local tourism post COVID, Bungabbee is far more valuable as a forest, accessible to the public, than as wood chip. We should focus on enhancing the environmental, recreational and tourism potential of this area, not destroy it.
‘Recent bushfires, drought, and land clearing have greatly impacted our region. Now, more than ever before, it is essential we preserved key wildlife habitats such as Bungabbee,’ said Ms Phelps.
A Petition against the logging can be signed online or in person at the Lismore Environment Centre, Goolmangar and Cawongla Stores, Rock Valley Post Office, Night Owl in Lismore and other locations.