Forests NSW accused of breach

THE North East Forest Alliance says it has discovered the illegal destruction of trees within 9ha of old-growth remnant forest by loggers in the Girard State Forest, near Drake.

NEFA spokesman Dailan Pugh said the forest held high conservation value old-growth trees and was protected under four NSW Government Acts.

The logging was in breach of 45 logging licence conditions, an audit conducted by NEFA this month revealed, he said.

“This magnificent stand was identified for protection in Forests NSW’s 1995 Tenterfield environment impact statement,” Mr Pugh said. “As an outcome of the Regional Forest Agreement it was incorporated into a special prescription zone to enhance and protect its values.”

The special prescription zone allows for logging in the forest, but conditions designed to protect old-growth and endangered habitat are imposed.

Mr Pugh said the old-growth remnant was dominated by giant trees, some with a diameter of more than 2m and more than 50m tall.

He said the rainforest was inhabited by threatened species, including shuttering frogs, sooty owls, powerful owls, golden tipped bats, yellow-bellied gliders and koalas.

“All of the big, old trees were required to be retained to satisfy standard logging prescriptions, though only two-thirds of them were spared,” Mr Pugh said.

“Forests NSW left defective trees to meet prescriptions, piled debris around bases of retained trees ready for burning, cleared the rainforest understorey, trashed streams that were meant to be protected, and dropped trees into adjoining rainforest exclusion areas.”

Mr Pugh said breaches by loggers carrying out work for Forests NSW had become routine.

NEFA is calling on all Federal candidates to commit to an urgent intervention to stop the destruction of rainforests, wetlands, endangered ecological communities, old-growth forest and the habitats of endangered species.

A spokesman for Forests NSW said it was working to examine if there were any systemic issues with harvesting in three North Coast State forests at Yabra, Doubleduke and Girard.

Forests NSW has been conducting its own audits and considering matters raised by NEFA to determine the nature of the issues and how to ensure they do not happen again, the spokesman said.

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