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Byron Shire
February 25, 2024

Alarming footage of devastation in Ellis State Forest

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Susie Russell says the EPA has been notified and they have said they will carry out an inspection on Tuesday. Photo Tree Faerie.

Today north coast conservationists say they are shocked and alarmed at footage of the devastation being wrought in Ellis State Forest south of Grafton.

Investigations over the weekend documented dozens of breaches of the logging rules including several giant trees felled and koala and habitat trees seriously damage.

North Coast Environment Council Vice-President, Susie Russell said the EPA has been notified and they have said they will carry out an inspection on Tuesday. ‘But unless they immediately issue a stop work order, these serial offenders will be able to continue their reckless rampage through the giant old trees and koala habitat.

Area clearly has old-growth trees

Ms Russell said the area clearly has many old-growth trees. ‘The Forestry Corporation uses LIDAR technology which enables them to see individual trees. They can pick out the areas where there are large trees left and target those.

‘The 2019/20 fires burnt through this forest. The oldest, largest trees were the best survivors, providing refuge for animal survivors. Now they are being killed, and the animals that depend on them will probably also die.

‘This part of Ellis State Forest was identified as being core habitat for one of the largest populations of koalas on the north coast. That was before the fires of 2019/20. Instead of pressing pause on logging to assess the full impact of the fires on the forests and give koalas a chance to recover, then Forestry Minister John Barilaro, renown for describing koalas as ‘tree rats’, pushed to keep logging, hiding a secret Government report that warned forestry rules were inadequate to address the combined impacts of forest and logging.’

No recognition of koala home trees

Ms Russell said that if they do see a koala in a tree, they wait until it comes down and then take the tree. ‘There is absolutely no recognition that koalas have home trees and home ranges and favourite places. By destroying them, koalas become homeless, stressed and in many cases die. It’s like if someone drove a bulldozer through your house, and your supermarket and your community centre.

‘Homelessness is a very real crisis for forest animals.

‘Now, despite accepted scientific advice that koalas are hurtling to extinction and may well be gone from the wild in less than 30 years, all levels of government are still signing off on the destruction of their homes.

Waiting for EPA to progress breaches

North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) president Dailan Pugh said koalas have been waiting a long time for the EPA to progress breaches reported two years ago. ‘By the time the EPA work out they are dealing with serial offenders and start issuing Stop Work Orders, more giant trees will be gone forever and more koala trees will be sacrificed.

‘The EPA have allowed the Forestry Corporation to rampage through the Proposed Great Koala Park for years. It took them four years to get the Forestry Corporation fined $285,600 in June for logging into a Koala High Use Area, rainforest and a rainforest buffer in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest.

‘It took the EPA two years before they commenced legal action in July for logging six Giant Trees and seven Hollow-bearing Trees in another part of Wild Cattle Creek State Forest.

‘Meanwhile, they are refusing to take any action in response to NEFA’s complaints from over two years ago that the Forestry Corporation recklessly damaged centuries-old old-growth trees and koala feed trees, legally required to be retained, in the same area.

Twenty cases of reckless damage

‘And a couple of weeks ago, after a brief inspection, NEFA reported another 20 cases of reckless damage to retained old-growth and koala feed trees in another part of Wild Cattle Creek State Forest.

‘While its great to see the EPA taking some token prosecutions, they take far too long to hold the loggers to account, while they are turning a blind eye to most offences and allowing them to continue unchecked.

‘It is therefore not surprising that the Forestry Corporation are continuing to recklessly damage old-growth and koala feed trees, while continuing to cut down giant trees elsewhere within the proposed Great Koala National Park.’

Some of the footage can be seen here.

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  1. Yes – it looks “nasty” after logging/harvesting – but it will recover and be verdant in 25yrs time.
    State Forests were originally created to provide valuable timber to our community.
    We really need this renewable resource in these difficult times.

    • Rubbish, we need the little remaining old growth and regrowth for habitat for endangered species and to protect environment.

      Most of the logged native forests go to Asia to be woodchips. Terrible waste.

  2. “We really need this renewable resource in these difficult times.”
    The Koala ( and a whole lot of other of our animal friends ) would beg to differ and say ‘we really need to have a home in these difficult times’

  3. Joachim, we need it to avoid burning more fossil fuels and doing more mining.

    If NEFA cared about the ecology they would stop campaigning to shut down all forestry operations, and campaign for sustainable forestry

  4. The hardwood division in Forestry Corpse has been economically unviable and propped up by tax payer subsidies for decades. Yet, due to dodgy trade agreements, the State owned corpse is obligated to fulfill quotas to overseas companies or chipping/pulping factories. Most of these old trees are being cut down to be turned into straight paper pulp 🙁
    Absolute tradgedy, absolute insanity that the colonial state continues to push life on Earth over the brink of extinction. That includes us: no trees, no clean water, no clean air, no soil, no life. Simple.

    • Calling names and saying you love trees is not very compelling. You need more of an agreement than ‘me no likey’ to justify the very real loss that indulging your feelings would cause to people in need both here and in poorer countries.

      • I think Susie, Dailan and Leandra above have all provided plenty of compelling argument, whereas you and your mates Shane and Rob have provided none whatsoever. Pot calling kettle black.

  5. Shane take a walk in an old growth forest and allow your senses to open to another world…before it disappears. Take some friends with you. You will be amazed how much you will learn from the Ecological experience…if you open yourself to the experience.
    You will learn about the inter-connectivity of species survival and hopefully this will aid your understanding of the plight of our forests. Use your imagination and ask yourself during this experience if the felling of forests during these tough Climate Change experiences are in any way related to the rise, also, of Floods and species extinction.?. Old growth Forests play a huge role in water absorbing and ecological balance. Naive to criticise Dailan Pugh who is recognised as one of Australia’s top Ecologists and fortunately also for all of us, an Earth Warrior.
    Do let us know how this experience impacted on you. All the best.


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