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June 2, 2023

$15,000 fine and warnings over illegal logging in Kyogle Shire

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Rojech Pty Ltd were fined $15,000 and cautioned over illegal logging activities by the EPA. Photo supplied

Urbenville-based logging company Rojech Pty Ltd were fined $15,000 earlier this month over logging operations near the entrance to the Border Ranges National Park in Kyogle Shire. They were also issued an ‘Official Caution’ for breaches under the Local Land Services Act.

A ‘Formal Warning’ was also issued to the landowner for not adequately ensuring compliance by the harvest contractor who was operating under a Private Native Forestry (PNF) agreement.

Kyogle Environment Group (KEG) members had witnessed the logging aftermath near the entrance to the Border Ranges National Park and, with the help of local ecologists, identified potential breaches and reported the operation to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Northern Rivers is considered a biodiversity hotspot and is recognised as one of the richest and most diverse regions for flora and fauna in Australia.


The EPA’s investigation led to the discovery of 133 illegal logging projects, that had all failed to comply with Kyogle Council requirements of a development application (DA).

‘Since 2013 landholders have been required by the Kyogle Local Environment Plan (LEP) to obtain consent for logging by submitting a development application (DA), despite this the Local Land Services (LLS) since issued 133 Private Native Forestry approvals, without any preparing DAs or obtaining consent from Council,’ explaind North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Dalian Pugh OAM.

‘The private logging fiasco in Kyogle Shire highlights the problem of the LLS approving logging without requiring that landowners first obtain development consent from councils where legally required.’ 

The Kyogle Environment Group with the help of local ecologists, identified potential breaches and reported the operation to the Environmental Protection Agency. Photo supplied

160,000 acres approved for logging

Kyogle Environment Group Chair, Tori Bail, says more than half of all private native forests, totalling 160,000 hectares, under freehold title in the Kyogle Shire are approved for logging.

Kyogle Shire Council Mayor, Kylie Thomas, stated to the ABC in November 2022. ‘We’ve got a history in Kyogle of a strong timber industry, and the fact that it is still functioning today is a testament to generations past and present and how well they are managing their land. Why would we get in the way of that?’

Logging compliance needed

KEG wants a newly elected State government to adequately resource the EPA to carry out a satisfactory forestry compliance regime that doesn’t place prime reliance on community reports and is armed with detailed flora and fauna mapping. It also wants a process of ratification of dual consent so Councils can assess environmental and community infrastructure impacts from a local perspective.

‘Regulation without adequate compliance is basically useless,’ says Ms Bail. ‘We may never know what unchecked damage has been done to our local forests from this bureaucratic neglect.’

Mr Pugh said that, ‘even the PNF Plan that maps areas to be excluded from logging (threatened ecological communities, rainforest, old growth, wetlands, heathland, caves. rocky outcrops, Aboriginal sites, riparian buffers, slopes over 30 degrees) does little to review or assess environmental constraints.

‘LLS, and before them the EPAy, have been grossly negligent in approving unlawful PNF logging operations across NSW, including in environmental zones.

‘A 2018 review by the Department of Planning identified that across north-east NSW “4% (14,182 ha) of the PNF Plan area falls into council ‘forestry prohibited’ zones” and “30% of the PNF plan area (110,578ha) is in zoning where “forestry requires development consent”.

‘PNF plans are just simplistic desk-top assessments, limited to within the property, that require no surveys for threatened species, and disregard applicable strategies and policies, including those of Councils.  

‘Other landholders are required to submit DAs for far more benign activities, and these give an opportunity for neighbours and affected communities to have their say, and account taken of impacts on local amenity, roads and bridges.  

‘On 2 December 2022 Kyogle Shire Council wrote to all 133 PNF operators with LLS approvals since 2013 informing them their operations are unlawful, and requesting they submit DAs and obtain consent before proceeding.’

On the North Coast more than two million hectares of eucalypt forest is on private land. In 2018 the Department of Primary Industries identified that all regulatory exclusion categories (including old growth) cover 25.6 per cent, of the total area of private native forest in north-east NSW, indicating that around one and a half million hectares of the North Coast is potentially available for logging.

‘No wonder Australia leads the world in biodiversity loss,’ said Ms Bail.

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  1. Thanks to Perrottet, Minus and Tool, environment defenders and protectors get Perrottet’s proverbial book thrown at them with fine and jail.
    Here we have an environment vandal, damage done, just receiving a slap on the wrist.

  2. Remember that Kyogle LGA has huge areas of Eucalyptus forest on private land only because the landholders let it grow decades ago to benefit future communities.

    There is something morally wrong with trying to stop primary producers from logging (regrowth) forests they grew on cleared land while the hippies opposing this were growing Lantana, privet and camphor laurels across huge tracts of their lands over the same time period

    • That’s original native forests, not regrowth.
      We, not being your so-called ‘hippies’, but concerned citizens who could see the value of preserving our precious environment for future generations. Worked hard to get Border Ranges, Nightcap, Mt Jerusalem and other national parks declared just ahead of their destruction, but these native forests and their defenceless inhabitants also need protection from red neck cowboys who are happy to destroy the future for a few $.

  3. As a registered logging practice, my neighbours and I have all gone through the ‘logging contractor experience’. You would have to be sitting in the machine with them to pull them up when they loose focus, you can’t just run at them. In fact, a lot of their mistakes are actually because they get lost and don’t realise what they are doing. The convenience of hiring outside loggers isn’t worth risking getting a bad operator that may mess up our home. Erosion, desertification, salinity, anything that risks the next crop of trees, devalues our investment and makes the place less livable.

  4. The way I read this issue, the standout problem is the blatant refusal to follow due procedure, not about logging per se. I concur; such blatant disregard for requirements needs to be followed up with consequences steep enough to be an effective deterrent to repetition in the future.

    • No. They were fined 15k, and found another 133 unrelated illegal ‘logging projects’. I’m guessing that cutting down that tree that’s threatening to flatten your house counts as a logging project if a Koala once pissed on it.

  5. A Queensland logger moved to Northern NSW to log in keystone area for preventing climate change.

    Why did Council write to 133 PNF’s saying they need to submit DA’s ThEN pass a motion they don’t need to submit in DA’s.

    Some people say it’s a conflict of interest of Councillor’s to vote on it without declaring their logging activities on their PNF’s.

    DA’s generate funds for Council? It’s poor financial management to prevent a source of income for private interests. They can make ratepayers make up for the loss of turning a blind eye to logging companies. Many small operators are self manage retirement funds and all the costs are paid for by tax credits, to buy machinery, 4WD’s , leases of land along the skirts of national parks and preserved areas.
    AND why would anyone advertise that 500,000 hectares is available for logging, to attract more of the dullest of brains, who can’t see that the length of time it takes a forest to grow it wasn’t intended for the use of one generation.

    • At the current rate of logging it would take centuries to log every area, at which point we could start back a the beginning as it will have become old growth forest again. Personally I prefer private tree farms, but the greenies try to turn them into national forests once they have grown, thus the current problems.

  6. PNF operators in my district have cut and chipped hollow old growth trees, to make space for many small young trees. These old hollow trees were nesting sites for owls that eat mice and rats, who if not kept in cheque, roam the land in plague proportions. The old growth trees are also incredibly efficient at drawing water from the dry land and sharing the water around through transpiration. Thats why they call Mt Warning, the rain maker. There should be a 50% tax on tree removal to pay for degradation of land and environment at point of sale and massive criminal charges for old growth tree removal and reducing Fauna populations.


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