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Byron Shire
June 18, 2024

Is Kyogle Council misrepresenting changes to Private Native Forestry approvals?

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The Kyogle Environment Group with the help of local ecologists, identified breaches of PNF plan and reported the operation to the Environmental Protection Agency that led to a $15,000 fine and warnings. Photo supplied

Kyogle Council has stated that the process of applying for a Private Native Forestry (PNF) approval from both Local Land Services (LLS) and the Kyogle Council ‘essentially duplicates the assessment’.

However, this statement has been challenged by the Kyogle Environment Group (KEG) who told The Echo that the development application (DA) for a PNF approval through council addresses a different set of criteria than approval via LLS. 

LLS limited scope

A council brief in 2022 explained that ‘In determining whether to approve a PNF Plan for a subject property, LLS only considers matters on the subject property such as the presence of protected environmental or heritage areas and infrastructure required on-site to conduct forestry operations (e.g. internal roads, erosion and sediment control, snig tracks etc).’

The brief highlighted that the LLS do not look at ‘Council and community interests including impacts on infrastructure (roads, bridges and haulage routes), local amenity, water quality and areas of local environment or heritage significance.’

‘The assessment does not have regard to existing strategies or policies relevant to the subject land or the cumulative impact of PNF across a landscape.’ and ‘Councils are not consulted during the assessment process and only receive notification from LLS when a PNF Plan has been approved.’

Rojech Pty Ltd, who were operating under a PNF Plan, were fined $15,000 and cautioned over illegal logging activities by the EPA. Photo supplied

160,000 hectares

Kyogle Shire has one of New South Wales’ largest private native forestry estates, covering 160,000 hectares and the KEG is asking why the Kyogle Council want to drop the dual consent process for PNF.

In Council’s Kyogle and Villages Community Newsletter council highlight the fact that ‘Once a PNF Plan is approved by LLS, the NSW Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for conducting checks to ensure landowners and forestry operators are complying with the approval issued and the PNF Code of Practice’.

Compliance failures

However, it is well documented that existing regulations lack stringent requirements for on-ground assessments, particularly regarding threatened ecological communities.

‘As a result, most private lands lack documented records of threatened species, enabling landowners to undertake forestry activities without adequate consideration of their impact on local wildlife. Despite provisions in the PNF Code aimed at wildlife protection, their application often falls short, leading to unsustainable practices and threats to endangered species,’ said Tori Bail from KEG. 

‘The absence of oversight mechanisms to ensure compliance exacerbates the problem. Despite regulations mandating environmental assessments, there are no monitoring or compliance checks in place, leaving ecosystems vulnerable to habitat destruction.

‘The development application process must consider the impact the proposed development is likely to have on the natural environment, the built environment and the local community, any submissions made by neighbours, the wider community and government agencies after the development application was advertised and the public interest,’ she explained. 

If the PNF application process is solely through LLS then many of these considerations and potential for community comment are eliminated. 

‘Local Land Services and Local Councils do not look at the same parameters when approving a PNF application. LLS use the 2022 PNF Code of Practice. Local Councils follow the NSW government Planning Legislation. The LLS assessment is a desk top approval that does not have regard to existing strategies or policies relevant to the subject land or the cumulative impact of PNF across a landscape,’ said Ms Bail. 

‘So how does Kyogle Council intend to ensure that community interests including impacts on infrastructure (roads, bridges and haulage routes) local amenity, water quality, culmulative impacts across landscapes and areas of local environment or heritage significance are met?’

Have your say

Community can review the full Planning Proposal on Council’s website: https://www.kyogle.nsw.gov.au/council-engagement/council-business/on-public-exhibition/.

Submission can be made on the Planning Proposal until 4pm, June 7. Submissions must be in writing and addressed to the Director Planning and Community Development, PO Box 11, Kyogle or emailed to: [email protected].


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5 COMMENTS

  1. all forests including camphor laurel should be protected and people jailed for life for cutting down any tree its a crime against humanity!

  2. Yep, keep demonising all use of the renewable resource, wood, and the winner continues to be…mining and fossil fuel burning.

    Yabba dabba doo

  3. Thanks Tori, for your dedication to protecting our Wildlife and forests.
    As logging accelerates in our State forests ahead of the probable changes to logging permissions, the same may very well be reflected in Private Native forest logging. In fear of the future protections which may need to be legislated, as in Victoria, all the timber people must be going full pelt to take out the timber while they still can. Pretty scarey to think of the potential damage to habitats that are left.
    We desperately need some oversight. The LLS comes from an agricultural perpective where nature is a resource to be “mined” and managed. The local Council is sometimes the last line of defense for our precious local native
    forests.
    Great work Tori. 🙂

  4. Basically, Kyogle Council wants to remove the only environmental safeguards forests have.
    not ok, and is anything BUT ‘renewable’’. Only intact primary (untouched) forests provide the full spectrum of environmental services humanity relies upon. Chopped up, smashed forests cannot. Even ‘selectively cleared’ – it is almost worse, because they take the biggest trees which are the most important.

    We know the lax regulations and the EPA cannot be relied upon with ‘after the fact’ punishments, and this goes for privately and publicly owned forests.

    Especially notable: negative edge affects can be seen up to 2km into a once-pristine forest from roads and logging! So if the slicing and dicing of habitat intensifies from this new rule, that would leave pretty much nothing left.

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