MINISTER ASKED TO INTERVENE TO PROTECT ROYAL CAMP’S KOALAS

NEFA have written to the NSW Environment Minister, providing him with a Sandy Creek National Park proposal covering core Koala habitat in Royal Camp and Carwong SFs

Sandy Creek National Park Proposal

MEDIA RELEASE 17/11/2014

The North East Forest Alliance has today put a proposal to the Minister for the Environment for the permanent protection of core Koala habitat in a Sandy Creek National Park near Casino.

NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said the proposed 2,100ha Sandy Creek National Park seeks to protect and rehabilitate identified important Koala habitat south-west of Casino in Carwong State Forest and part of Royal Camp State Forest.

“The study commissioned at the request of the Minister for Environment has confirmed our findings that this proposal encompasses part of a resident breeding population of Koalas that is of regional significance.

“The study also found that the Koala population in the surrounding Richmond Valley Local Government Area is in decline and threatened with local extinction.

“The Forestry Corporation have proven time and again that they can not be trusted to look after Royal Camp’s Koalas.  The Minister must now intervene to guarantee the persistence of this endangered population.

“Given the Koala’s preferences for mature trees (with trunk diameters over 30cm diameter), their available food trees have been significantly reduced by logging. For the recovery of Koalas in this area it is essential that remaining mature feed trees be protected and more trees allowed to mature.

“This public land is proposed for logging and CSG mining, so now is the time to exclude such destructive activities.

“This time this core Koala habitat is on public land and there are no highway, housing estate or music festival proposals to justify not protecting it.

“The proposal is comprised of inadequately reserved forest types, encompasses 2 Endangered Ecological Communities, and is habitat for the Critically Endangered Regent Honeyeater, 3 Endangered plants, and 18 other Vulnerable species.

“The Minister must act to protect this core Koala habitat” Mr. Pugh said.

INQUIRY INTO EPA AUDIT OF ROYAL CAMP STATE FOREST WELCOMED

MEDIA RELEASE 19/6/2014

The North East Forest Alliance has welcomed the NSW Upper House inquiry into the Environment Protection Authority’s audit of Royal Camp State Forest (near Casino) as NEFA believe it was 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 issued the Forestry Corporation three $300 fines for logging in a Koala High Use Area, their 2013 audit 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 was a cover-up was made apparent by the EPA’s dismissal of numerous complaints on the grounds that they “could not locate the alleged location”, this was despite NEFA providing the EPA with photos, GPS locations and even leading the EPA to the specific breaches in the forest.

“There is something very rotten when the EPA claim they could not find breaches they were shown on site.

“We were disappointed that the EPA once again ignored our complaints about logging facilitating the spread of both lantana and Bell Miner Associated Dieback along the main creek through the area.

“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 dealt with our complaints on logging operations in Royal Camp State Forest in a fair, balanced or competent manner.  The EPA 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.

“We welcome this opportunity to have the EPA’s handling of this matter investigated. Their audit was either a deliberate attempt to hide the nature and extent of breaches or an extremely shoddy, unprofessional and incompetent job.  This is just one of the EPA’s audits that we harbor grave reservations about, maybe now we can find out why they are so bad”. Mr. Pugh said.

The NEFA Audit of Royal Camp State Forest is available at http://nefa.org.au/audit/RoyalCamp/NEFA_Audit_Royal_Camp_SF.pdf

NEFA’S complaint to Mark Gifford about the EPA audit is available at: EPA_Royal Camp_NEFA Review.

1795. Mr Foley’s successful motion (as amended by David Shoebridge to include Royal Camp)

1. That General Purpose Standing Committee No 5 inquire and report on the performance of the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and in particular:

(a) measure the EPA’s recent performance against its objectives pursuant to Section 6 of the Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991,

(b) that the following cases be considered:

(i) land contamination issues at Botany and Hillsdale,

(ii) EPA investigations and public statements about the effects of coal dust pollution in the Hunter,

(iii) EPA investigation into ground water contamination in the Pilliga by Santos’ coal seam gas exploration,

(iv) the prosecution of Du Pont (Australia) Ltd for the alleged offence of land pollution in the western Sydney suburb of Girraween,

(v) the regulation of cruise passenger ships at the White Bay Cruise Terminal at Balmain,

(vi) the regulation of forestry practices in Royal Camp State Forest and

(c) any other related matters.

2. That the committee report by 14 February 2015.

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER ASKED TO STOP LOGGING OF SICK FORESTS

MEDIA RELEASE 16/6/2014

 The North East Forest Alliance has called on the NSW Minister for the Environment, Robert Stokes, to stop the Forestry Corporation logging forests suffering from dieback after a NEFA audit found the Forestry Corporation is targeting affected forests for increased logging in the full knowledge that they are killing the forest.

NEFA today released a report ‘For Whom the Bell Miners Toll’. The report looks 
at the issue of the Key Threatening Process ‘Bell Miner Associated Dieback’ (BMAD). 
http://nefa.org.au/audit/BellMinerToll/For_Whom_the_Bell_Miners_Toll.pdf

Report author, Dailan Pugh, said the primary cause of this dieback is the opening up of the forest canopy by logging and the invasion of disturbed understories by lantana.

“The altered habitat favours Bell Miners who aggressively mob and chase away most other birds and allow populations of sap-sucking psyllids to thrive and literally suck the life out of vast swathes of eucalypt forests.

“This dieback has affected over a hundred thousand hectares of NSW’s forests from the Queensland border to the Victorian border.  Millions of hectares of NSW’s native forests are considered susceptible to this threat.

“The report focuses on examples from the Border Ranges region in north east NSW, where some 30,000 hectares of native forest have already been affected by BMAD.  Rehabilitation costs are already estimated at some $30 million and growing as the Forestry Corporation continue to degrade the forest.

Mr. Pugh, said that he had inspected management trials established by the Forestry Corporation in 2005 in Donaldson State Forest and in 2007 in Mount Lindesay State Forest.

“The Forestry Corporation’s management trials were an abysmal failure.  The understories have been taken over by lantana, Bell Miners are everywhere, thousands of trees are dead and thousands more are dying.

“What is more alarming is that after realising that their management trials were an abject failure, since 2009 the Forestry Corporation have been targeting BMAD affected forests in the Border Ranges for increased logging intensity and are refusing to undertake rehabilitation works.

“The outcomes are increased dominance by lantana, dead and dying trees, destroyed ecosystems, and loss of habitat for an array of threatened species as BMAD is spread across the landscape.

“The Forestry Corporation know that increased degradation will be the outcome of their logging and thus are knowingly and wantonly destroying the forest.

“Controlling weeds and maintaining the health of ecosystems are basic requirements of Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management (ESFM). Both the 2012 Forestry Act and the 1998 Integrated Forestry Operations Approval legally require the Forestry Corporation to manage forests in accordance with ESFM.

“The Forestry Corporation’s spreading of lantana and promotion of BMAD is therefore an environmental crime of the worst kind because they are doing it deliberately.  The supposed regulators, the Environment Protection Authority, refuse to stop logging of BMAD forests and say that it is up to the Ministers to enforce ESFM requirements, not them.

“We have thus written to the Environment Minister asking him to urgently intervene to stop the logging of forests affected by, and susceptible to, Bell Miner Associated Dieback” Mr. Pugh said.

Protecting High Conservation Value Vegetation on private lands

The review of Environmental Zones (E2, E3, E4) on the Far North Coast of NSW has finally been released over 7 months after it was prepared.  It provides strong support for the inclusion of environmental zones and overlays in far north coast Local Environmental Plans to protect high conservation value native vegetation. It identifies that Kyogle, Lismore and Ballina local governments need to undertake systematic biodiversity assessments and consequently expand their environmental zones. It does however recognise that there are some significant mapping errors that need to be rectified.

On the downside it strangely recommends downgrading the zoning of rainforest, oldgrowth forest, rare and endangered ecosystems, wetlands, mangroves and riparian vegetation from E2 to E3.  These are all of exceptional conservation value and deserve the highest protection. They should not be left open to the gamut of uses allowed in E3 zones.

It also recommends that core Koala habitat identified in a Koala plan of Management should be included in an environmental overlay rather than an E2 zone.  It also proposes allowing extensive agriculture in the highest “E2″ zones.

Given the review’s endorsement of EZones, and if we can get improved protection for high conservation value vegetation, it will provide useful guidance to other Councils as to what they should be zoning for protection throughout NSW.  Lets see if we can improve on it.

In September 2012 Ballina MP Don Page and Lismore MP Thomas George prevailed upon the NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard to have environmental zones (E2, E3, and later E4) excised from new Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) being prepared for Ballina, Byron, Lismore, Kyogle and Tweed council areas.  20 months later the review has been released.

The community needs to speak up again for full protection of our highest conservation value vegetation. Submissions on Northern Councils EZone Review Interim Report are due by the 5 June 2014. Further information is available at www.planning.nsw.gov.au/proposals.

http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/en-au/developmentproposals/planningreviewsandpanels/environmentalzonesinfarnorthcoast.aspx

MR_Restore and Expand E Zones

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.