Remake of Logging Rules

NEFA has made its submission to the proposed “remake” of the logging rules for public land in NSW.  The NSW Government is proposing gutting the existing protections for threatened species and prescriptions to stop excessive erosion, while removing protection for heritage, and from grazing and other uses.  They are intending removing restrictions on clearfelling and logging on excessively steep slopes. It will be open season on exclusion areas already identified for threatened species and Endangered Ecological Communities will be up for logging. This will be a disaster for north-east NSWs public lands, the extent of which will only fully be revealed by the EPA’s detailed plans in a couple of months.

The submission is at:

IFOA_Remake_NEFA submission

Whian Whian Final Audit

In February NEFA finalised its investigations into logging of private land at Whian Whian (adjacent to the Nightcap National Park). It identified 8 Koala high use trees and 76 threatened plants that have had forestry operations undertaken within what should have been 20 metre exclusion zones around them. 27 of the threatened plants and 3 of the Koala high use trees had roading within their exclusion zones after NEFA did identify their presence, and both the Forestry Corporation and the EPA had employed their own botanists who verified most of our records, before they constructed the track. This was after the EPA had refused our request for a stop work order.

At the behest of the Forestry Corporation, the EPA also had the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) remap rainforest on the property, in the process mysteriously reallocating 2.5 hectares of the Federally Critically Endangered Lowland Rainforest of Subtropical Australia to either the logging area or cleared land. The Forestry Corporation then constructed a road though these areas.

The EPA are still saying that their inspection report will be months away. NEFA’s final audit report is at:

http://nefa.org.au/audit/WhianWhian/NEFA_Final_Audit_Whian_Whian.pdf

NSW Government rules out logging in North Coast National Parks

NEFA and the North Coast Environment Council have welcomed the NSW Government’s rejection of most of the recommendations of the Public Land Use Inquiry, which was chaired by the Shooters and Fishers Party and dominated by Government members.

The NSW Governments long-awaited response into the Public Land Inquiry has finally ruled out logging in northern NSW National Parks in order to make up timber shortfalls.

“This is a decision for common sense and we are pleased that Premier O’Farrell has decided to quell the speculation,” said NCEC President Susie Russell.

“There is little doubt that the Government has seen the support and love that National Parks enjoy from a wide spectrum of the community. There has been overwhelming opposition to his decision to allow hunting in National Parks. Logging was clearly a bridge too far.

“We know that there were some inside the Government who actively promoted the Inquiry’s recommendation for ‘tenure swap’ : swapping logged State Forest for unlogged National Park; as a means of shoring up the logging industry. By clearly rejecting that proposal the Premier has taken action to rein in some of the more anti-environment forces that inhabit the Government benches,” Ms Russell said.

North East Forest Alliance spokesperson, Dailan Pugh said that now that the timber industry’s proposal to open up a million hectares of north-east NSW’s national parks for logging has been rejected, the NSW Government must urgently slash timber commitments from State forests down to a sustainable level.

“The timber industry has been intentionally logging north east NSW’s public forests well in excess of the identified sustainable yield for the past 15 years.  They have been cutting out the future of their own industry.

“If the NSW Government wants a hardwood sawlog industry in north east NSW in 10 years time it must immediately reduce logging quotas down to a sustainable level.  We expect this will require cuts of more than 50%. The longer the Government waits the deeper the cuts will have to be.

“The Government must come clean with the public by releasing last year’s timber review and acting urgently to stop the gross over-logging of publicly owned lands” Mr. Pugh said.

NEFA Audit of Whian Whian Private Property

NEFA have completed their initial audit of the logging by the Forestry Corporation on private property at Whian Whian, adjoining the Nightcap National Park.  It reveals extreme attempts by the Forestry Corporation to avoid logging prescriptions for threatened species, notably the Koala, and their roading within endangered Lowland Subtropical Rainforest.  It displays strong opposition to looking before they log and the Private Native Forest Code of Practice’s failure to require any looking.

NEFA Audit of Whian Whian

EPA MUST IMMEDIATELY IMPOSE STOP WORK ORDER TO STOP BULLDOZING OF THREATENED SPECIES

NEFA’s second survey of a private property adjacent to Nightcap National Park has revealed 8 Koala High Use Trees and over 70 threatened plants in the vicinity of a road that Forestry Corporation intend to construct.  NEFA have written to EPA asking for an urgent Stop Work Order: Letter_EPA asked to Stop Work_22_9_2013

MEDIA RELEASE 22/9/2013

The North East Forest Alliance has requested the Chief Executive Officer of the Environment Protection Authority, Barry Buffier, to immediately impose a Stop Work Order to stop the Forestry Corporation’s ongoing illegal logging operations on private property at Whian Whian, adjacent to Nightcap National Park.

NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh, has demanded that logging stop after the finding on the weekend of 8 Koala high use trees, over 60 vulnerable Red Bopple Nuts and 10 vulnerable Arrow-head Vines in the vicinity of a road that the Forestry Corporation intend to construct on Monday.

“The Forestry Corporation has show breathtaking contempt for threatened species and the legal requirements of the Private Native Forestry Code of Practice for Northern NSW. Because they refused to implement the required prescriptions, they have been logging illegally since we reported records of the Marbled Frogmouth, Sooty Owl and Masked Owl last Wednesday.

“We have already found roading within what should have been exclusion zones for Koalas and now the vulnerable Arrowhead Vine.

“Their new road is marked to pass through the middle of a grove of over 30 Red Bopple Nuts and a number of Koala high use trees. The Forestry Corporation’s ongoing refusal to search for Koala scats and failure to protect high use areas is outrageous.

“The Red Bopple Nut is one of the most easily recognised threatened plant species.  It is inconceivable that a trained forester could have missed them, let alone marked a new road through the centre of a grove in full flower without seeing them. The flowers and their strong heavenly scent, along with the huge lobed leaves, are unmistakeable.  It appears that Forestry Corporation deliberately ignored these species because they refuse to allow threatened species to hinder their logging.

“This wanton killing of threatened species must be stopped.

“It is a clear breach of the Private Native Forestry Code of Practice for Northern NSW, and thus the Native Vegetation Act, for the Forestry Corporation to log or road in this area until the required 20m exclusion zones are marked around streams for the Marbled Frogmouth, all the Koala high use trees and all the localities of threatened plants.

“Given the Forestry Corporation’s ongoing refusal to meet their legal obligations, the Chief Executive Officer of the EPA must issue an urgent Stop Work Order in accordance with Section 37 of the Native Vegetation Act 2003” Mr. Pugh said.

MAKE THREATENED SPECIES COUNT

A survey in Koreelah State Forest has recorded 4 threatened species in an area where logging has started.  The Threatened Species Licence requires the application of prescriptions to increase the protection of riparian habitat for the nationally endangered Fleay’s Barred Frog and State vulnerable Marbled Frogmouth.  NEFA is asking for logging to stop while further surveys are undertaken to better identify the distribution of Fleay’s Barred Frog and to allow the required exclusion zones to be marked on the ground.  NEFA has also identified some 5ha of magnificent oldgrowth forest habitat for these species proposed for logging.

Fleay's Barred Frog, Koreelah State Forest

Endangered Fleay’s Barred Frog, Koreelah SF

NEFA’s audit supplement and letter to the Ministers are at:

NEFA_Koreelah Audit Supplement

Letter to Ministers for Environment and Primary Industries_2_9_2013
MEDIA RELEASE 3/9/2013
The North East Forest Alliance is again calling for logging in core habitat of a suite of threatened species to stop in Koreelah State Forest while independent surveys are undertaken, after again finding logging underway in the habitat of threatened species required to be protected in accordance with the NSW-Commonwealth North East NSW Regional Forest Agreement.
Koreelah State Forest is on the NSW-Queensland border near the juncture of the Border and Great Dividing Ranges, 15 kilometres north-west of Woodenbong.
Spokesperson for NEFA, Dailan Pugh, said a survey in compartment 30 of Koreelah State Forest on Saturday night located 4 threatened species and found logging underway in habitat required to be protected for the vulnerable Marbled Frogmouth and about to start in habitat required to be protected for the endangered Fleay’s Barred Frog.
“The Threatened Species Licence requires the application of prescriptions to increase the protection of riparian habitat for the Fleay’s Barred Frog and Marbled Frogmouth. NEFA is asking for logging to stop while further surveys are undertaken to better identify the distribution of Fleay’s Barred Frog and to allow the required exclusion zones to be marked on the ground. NEFA has also identified some 5ha of magnificent oldgrowth forest habitat for these species proposed for logging.
“We wrote to State and Federal Ministers in June asking for logging to be halted while adequate surveys for threatened species were undertaken in Koreelah State Forest. At that time we found that logging had occurred in areas that should have been protected for the nationally vulnerable Koala and the NSW vulnerable Albert’s Lyrebird.
“It was apparent to us that a number of regionally endemic threatened species had not been adequately surveyed for by the Forestry Corporation and were likely to occur in areas proposed for logging.
“Disgracefully neither the State nor Federal Governments were prepared to ensure that adequate surveys were undertaken.
“It should not be up to a voluntary conservation group to undertake surveys to identify the presence of threatened species so that required prescriptions are applied to limit logging impacts” Mr. Pugh said.
Saturday 7 September is national Threatened Species Day, which is held to commemorate the death of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger (also known as the thylacine) at Hobart Zoo in 1936.
“We are in the midst of an extinction crisis. On Threatened Species Day we elect our next Federal Government, we implore people to consider the fate of the numerous threatened species in this region when they cast their votes.
“Unfortunately there is not much to choose from. The ALP members for Richmond and Page have repeatedly stood aside while prescriptions are watered-down and critical habitat destroyed for nationally threatened species. The National Party candidates have made it clear that they think the NSW State Government should be allowed to do whatever they want.
“Barnaby Joyce and Kevin Hogan have even supported the opening up of National Parks for logging” Mr. Pugh said.

EPA AUDIT OF ROYAL CAMP A POLITICAL COVER-UP

Around a year after we made our complaints about Forestry Corporation’s (FC) logging in Royal Camp State Forest, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) finally released their report. They issued FC with 3 Penalty Notices for logging within a Koala High Use Area and its buffer, and a warning for not marking and retaining the required hollow-bearing (H), recruitment (R), eucalypt feed, and Koala feed trees. In an 8.4 ha assessed by the EPA they had only marked 2 H and 3 R trees, when 42 of each were required (eucalypt and Koala trees can count as H and R trees if they meet other criteria). Despite FC being serial offenders the EPA let them off with a caution. Though what was most shocking was the EPA’s cover-up of numerous other breaches we reported. See our letter of complaint to the EPA EPA_Royal Camp_NEFA Review. Below is our media release:

MEDIA RELEASE 25/8/2013
The North East Forest Alliance is concerned that the Environment Protection Authority’s recent audit of Royal Camp State Forest is a political cover-up aimed at hiding the full scope and extent of licence breaches committed by the Forestry Corporation.

NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh, said that while the EPA earlier issued Forestry Corporation three $300 fines for logging in a Koala High Use Area, their recent report failed to respond to NEFA’s complaints that Forestry Corporation logged another 2 Koala High Use Areas while the EPA were conducting their audit.

“Given that the EPA told us they had inspected at least one of these and agreed it was another Koala High Use Area, their failure to mention it in their report is inexplicable.

“The fact that this is a cover-up is made clear by the EPA’s dismissal of numerous complaints on the grounds that they “could not locate the alleged location”, this despite us providing the EPA with photos, GPS locations and leading the EPA to the specific breaches in the forest.

“There is something very rotten within the EPA as they now claim they could not find breaches we actually showed and discussed with them on site.

“We also showed EPA the head and upper trunk of an illegally felled Spotted Gum with the distinctive incisions that Yellow-bellied Gliders make in the trunk in order to collect sap for feeding. Despite wildlife ecologist Mr. Milledge discussing this with EPA on site, the EPA refused to take any action because they claimed they could not determine beyond reasonable doubt whether the incisions had been made by a yellow-bellied glider” Mr. Pugh said.

Mr. Milledge said “Several incisions were of the classic v-notch shape, and were surrounded by claw marks typical of those made by the Yellow-bellied Glider when biting into the bark of such trees. These incisions were among the clearest and most readily identifiable that I have seen. I find it inconceivable that the EPA was unable to positively identify the subject tree as a Yellow-bellied Glider sap feed tree from the incisions present”.

Mr. Pugh said “NEFA do not consider that the EPA have dealt with our complaints on logging operations in Royal Camp State Forest in a fair, balanced or competent manner. The EPA have suppressed audit results relevant to complaints, claimed that they couldn’t find trees they were shown on the ground, ignored expert evidence, and refused to audit significant breaches.

“This is either a deliberate attempt to hide the nature and extent of breaches or an extremely shoddy, unprofessional and incompetent job. The fact that this is just the latest example in a series of shoddy and incomplete audits by the EPA, suggests their audits are politically motivated cover-ups.

“We have complained to the EPA’s Acting Chief Regulator, Mark Gifford, though have no faith that the NSW Government wants fair and honest auditing of the Forestry Corporation’s logging operations” Mr. Pugh said.

TIME FOR SAFFIN TO STATE HER POSITION ON FORESTS

The Australian Forest Products Association has announced it is going to target the Federal electorates of Page (Janelle Saffin) and Lyne (Rob Oakshott retiring) in north east NSW in the upcoming federal election.  Below is a media release that was just put out to the Northern Rivers for the seat of Page.

MEDIA RELEASE 24/7/2013

The fight is on for the future of our forests with the announcement by the Australian Forest Products Association that its marginal seats campaign will target Janelle Saffin’s seat of Page in the lead up to the Federal election.

Since December NEFA have written to Janelle Saffin on numerous occasions asking her to commit to opposing the logging of national parks, and the reductions in protections for threatened species, oldgrowth, rainforest and streams, being demanded by the Forest Products Association.

Spokesperson for NEFA, Dailan Pugh, said “Janelle’s refusals to answer our questions suggests she supports the logger’s intentions. Why else won’t Janelle commit to protecting existing national parks?”

“Rather than standing up for our threatened species, Janelle has overseen major reductions in the protection provided to the nationally endangered Hastings River Mouse in her electorate.  Similarly she did nothing in March when NSW removed existing protections for 25 nationally threatened plants and animals and reduced protection for 8 others in north east NSW.

“The Commonwealth also refused to improve protection from logging for the Koala after it was listed as nationally vulnerable, despite our pleas to Janelle and the federal Environment Minister.

“Similarly the Federal Environment Minister has not even bothered to reply to our requests for urgent intervention to stop the logging of Koala High Use Areas in Royal Camp State Forest in Janelle’s electorate.

“Janelle has not replied to our invitations to come out and see the devastation being wrought on public forests in her electorate by logging and the associated spread of Bell Miner Associated Dieback.

“She has also condoned the Commonwealth’s refusal to meet its obligations to recognise and protect the outstanding national and international heritage values of this region’s forests.

“With plans now afoot to cut down trees, under the guise of forest residues, to burn for electricity, Janelle must publicly state whether she will now stand up for our forests or continue to oversee their destruction.

“We agree with the Australian Forest Products Association that people have the right to know whether a vote for Janelle Saffin is a vote for logging national parks, further erosion of protections for nationally threatened species and burning of forests for electricity”, Mr. Pugh said.

The questions put to members and national party candidates for Richmond and Page in March were:

We are writing to you a candidate for the northern rivers to ask if you will commit to:

  1. 1.    opposing logging of north-east NSWs existing National Parks and other conservation reserves;
  2. 2.    opposing any reduction in existing protections for rainforest, oldgrowth forest, threatened species and streams on State Forests;
  3. 3.    supporting the listing of national parks and other conservation reserves under federal environment laws as matters of national environmental significance; and,
  4. 4.    supporting the termination of the North East NSW Regional Forest Agreement should NSW materially contravene the commitments given therein.

Premier Asked to Stop Koala Logging Lies

NEFA have called upon the Premier to intervene to stop the Forestry Corporation continuing to lie about what we are saying and finding:

MEDIA RELEASE 18/7/2013

NEFA is calling on Premier Barry O’Farrell to direct the Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, to reign in the Forestry Corporation due to their continued public misinformation campaign and ongoing logging of Koala High Use Areas.

Spokesperson for NEFA. Dailan Pugh, said the Minister allowed the Game Council to develop into a rogue body and now she is sitting back while the Forestry Corporation go feral, log Koala habitat that is required to be protected and run a deliberate misinformation campaign.

This comes after the latest claims by the Forestry Corporation’s Regional Manager, Craig Busby, that there is discrepancy over how deep foresters needed to dig for koala scat and “NEFA says we should use shovels and rakes and dig deep for evidence of koala scat”1.

“This is the latest in a series of lies told by Craig Busby to local media, who has also claimed that NEFA are “excavating koala scats” to get historical records2.

“We have never done this.  We search amongst the leaf litter using our hands for Koala scats as is required by the Threatened Species Licence and as is practiced by foresters elsewhere5. For Mr. Busby to claim we have ever suggested that they should use shovels or rakes is an outright lie.

“Koala scats last around 6-8 weeks before they decompose, so finding a tree with lots of Koala scats under it shows that a Koala used that tree sometime in the recent past and that it is likely to be one of the trees regularly used within its home range. This is why the Forestry Corporation are legally required to find and protect them.

“Mr. Busby has also recently claimed that our finding of Koala scats in a logged area in Koreelah State Forest showed that logging is good for Koalas, this was despite our report stating that the age of the scats indicated Koalas had “vacated the area when it was logged”3.

“At the same time Mr. Busby also made the absurd claim that the 2.5m diameter Brush Box stump I was photographed standing on in Koreelah had only been 4 to 5m tall, when the head of the tree indicated it had been closer to 40m tall3.

“This follows claims last August by Forests NSW north east planning manager, Dean Kearney, that the Koala High Use Area that the EPA have now fined them for logging was well in advance of logging operations, when it clearly was not4.

“Contrary to claims that koala populations are booming as a direct result of logging the evidence is that their populations are declining in many State Forests in north east NSW.

“Logging that targets preferred feed trees in the size range 30-80 cm diameter has been identified as a significant threat to Koalas.  These are the very trees being targeted by the loggers.  Koalas have survived at Royal Camp despite past logging, not because of it.

“Minister Hodgkinson has failed to heed our repeated requests to her over the past year to ensure Koala scats are thoroughly search for ahead of logging and to stop continued logging of Koala High Use Areas.  Premier O’Farrell must now intervene if he cares about the survival of Koalas and the integrity of his Government.

“We are asking Premier O’Farrell to direct the Forestry Corporation to publicly apologise for misrepresenting us and lying to the public, and to properly protect Koalas” Mr. Pugh said.

CONTACT DAILAN PUGH 66 807063

1. Northern Star, 17 July 2013

2. ABC North Coast, 12 July 2013

3. ABC North Coast, interview with Craig Busby July 2013, see also http://www.nefa.org.au/audit/Koreelah/NEFA_Koreelah_State_Forest_Audit.pdf p9.

4. Northern Rivers Echo, 9th August 2012

5. http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2011/10/17/3341453.htm?site=southeastnsw

BURNING TO REPLACE WOODCHIPPING

Below are two media releases we put out in response to the NSW Government’s announced intention to allow trees from native forests to be taken for electricity generation.  The first was done jointly with NCEC and the second focused on the northern rivers in response to the Nationals claiming credit. The Government’s intention to amend the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 to allow this has to be put on public display for 28 days, so there will be a chance to object.

MEDIA RELEASE  July 11, 2013

BURNING TO REPLACE WOODCHIPPING

 North Coast conservationists are fearful that a NSW Government proposal to allow burning of wood from native forests for electricity generation will result in extensive degradation of north-east NSWs public and private forests if successful.

The EPA announced yesterday that the Government proposes to amend the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 so that logging residues, sawmill residues, and “trees that might otherwise be made into pulp” can be used for electricity generation. The EPA will shortly be putting the draft regulation on public exhibition. http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/epamedia/EPAMedia13071101.htm

Spokesperson for NEFA, Dailan Pugh, said that it was only last month that the export of woodchips from north-east NSW finally ended after 30 years.  “Now the NSW Government wants to burn our forests to generate electricity.

“With the prospect of furnaces being established throughout north-east NSW and the Hunter Valley this could lead to the unprecedented degradation of native forests”.

“Our native forests are most important as homes for native plants and animals, for provision of stream flows, as storehouses of carbon and for passive recreation.

“Our forests sequester significant volumes of atmospheric carbon and store it in their wood.  They are worth far more left standing as carbon storehouses to generate carbon credits than they are for logging and release of their stored carbon. Burning our carbon storehouses for electricity is one of the worst things we can do for global warming.

“The NSW Government should use the opportunity provided by the cessation of woodchipping to stop the ongoing degradation of our native forests by limiting logging to speciality purpose high value products” Mr. Pugh said.

Susie Russell, President of the North Coast Environment Council said there were no positives in the move to allow forests to be logged to feed in to power stations for electricity.

“Sawmill waste can already be used as a fuel, what is being proposed here is that trees that were being exported as woodchip (pulp) should now be burnt” she said.

“The end to export woodchipping provided the NSW Government with an opportunity to decrease logging quotas and the intensity of logging that is trashing the State Forests. Instead, they have chosen to opt for an even more destructive industry that won’t pass the sustainability test of time. The future demands innovation and clean forms of energy. This move belongs to the past,” she said.

“The proposal will be on exhibition for 28 days, we urge the community to take this opportunity to say NO!” Ms Russell said.

BURNING FORESTS FOR ELECTRICITY A BAD IDEA

MEDIA RELEASE 14/7/2013

Rather than being congratulated, NEFA considers that the North Coast Nationals Members, Don Page (Ballina), Thomas George (Lismore), Geoff Provest (Tweed) and Chris Gulaptis (Clarence) should be condemned for their efforts to feed some of the most biodiverse forests in the world into furnaces for electricity generation.

NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said that under the existing Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 sawmill residues and timber from plantations can be used for electricity generation.  “The proposed changes are all about allowing native forests to be cut down for electricity generation.

“Claims that they will use logging debris such as the stumps and tops of trees are total furphies.  This is what they claimed when they started export woodchipping over 30 years ago and they never used it because it is not economical to collect or transport.

 

“Any tree that someone decides they do not want for sawn timber is classed as forest residues.

“The reality is that it is all about cutting down trees in some of the most biodiverse forests in the world to feed into furnaces to generate electricity.  Given that the Nationals are concurrently stopping environmental zoning, relaxing land clearing rules, initiating a major reduction in logging constraints and considering opening up national parks for logging, this represents the biggest single threat to our native forests and their inhabitants in many decades.

“Cutting down and burning huge numbers of trees that have been accumulating and storing atmospheric carbon for decades or centuries will release the CO2 back into the atmosphere and will significantly worsen global warming. It will take decades or centuries for any regrowth to regain the lost carbon.

“If these trees are left standing then they can go on accumulating carbon and make a significant contribution to helping reduce atmospheric CO2. Protecting native forests is part of the solution to global warming.

“There is nothing green, renewable or sustainable about destroying our primary carbon storehouses.

“Burning wood for power releases proportionally far more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than either coal or gas.  Replacing one polluting fuel with a worse one at a time when we need to take urgent action to reduce our emissions does not make sense.

“It is reprehensible that this is being touted as a renewable energy that is intended to displace genuinely renewable sources such as sun and wind in satisfying our targets for 20% renewable energy by 2020.

“The Condong and Broadwater cogeneration plants have been plagued with resource and financial problems since they were commissioned in 2008. No Environmental Impact Statements were prepared on the grounds that they were going to be under 30 megawatts and primarily use sugar cane waste with some sawmill waste and Camphor Laurels.

“If the Condong and Broadwater cogeneration plants operated full time they would consume some 800,000 tonnes of biomass each year.

“To put this into perspective, 20,000 tonnes of trees were removed from public forests north from Coffs Harbour for woodchips in 2010, and volumes have since declined.  It would require a massive increase in logging intensity and clearing to satisfy the desires of these power plants for high volumes of cheap wood.

“It has long been recognised that burning wood generates particulate matter, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and a range of other organic compounds that can decrease lung function, aggravate asthma and increases the risk of developing heart diseases and even cancers. This can’t be good for the residents of Broadwater or Murwillumbah” Mr. Pugh said.