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Court challenge could be a turning point for native forest management in NSW

Legal action challenging the North East Regional Forest Agreement, which controls logging operations in northern NSW, could be a turning point in the protection of native forests and koalas in this state. [1]

The state’s native forests are in ecological decline because of decades of unsustainable logging sanctioned by state and federal governments through environmentally destructive Regional Forests Agreements.

“We applaud the North East Forests Alliance for challenging the deeply flawed RFA approval process and for their tireless efforts to give our native forests the protection state and federal governments have failed to provide,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said. 

“Making forestry operations adhere to federal environmental standards is just common sense, but Regional Forest Agreements have for decades given state forestry agencies and logging companies special exemption.

“These perverse arrangements have accelerated the decline of our precious forests and pushed koalas and other threatened species closer to extinction.

“We stand with NEFA and all the other forests conservation groups that have worked for decades to stop the senseless destruction our forests, which are among the most important ecosystems on the planet.”


The North East Regional Forest Agreement was originally signed between the Commonwealth and NSW in 2000. It was renewed in 2018 for another 20 years with rolling extensions that could continue indefinitely. 

In the summer of 2019-20, devastating bushfires ripped through native forests in the RFA region, including areas of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia.  

The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) will argue through its lawyers, the Environmental Defenders Office, that when the North East RFA was renewed the Commonwealth did not have regard to endangered species, the state of old growth forests or the impacts of climate change, as the EDO will argue it was required to do.  

NEFA is asking the Federal Court to declare that the North East RFA does not validly exempt native forest logging from federal biodiversity assessment and approval requirements (EPBC Act).  

No date has been yet set for hearings. 


[1] NSW Forest Logging Agreement Faces Legal Challenge over Climate, Biodiversity, EDO, 4-8-21 


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