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Federal Court ruling fails NSW’s threatened and endangered species

January 10, 2024  

The Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales (NCC), the state’s leading environmental advocacy organisation, has expressed disappointment in today’s Federal Court decision to dismiss the North East Forest Alliance’s challenge to the 2018 North East NSW Regional Forest Agreement.  

“It’s a sad day for the vulnerable species of NSW,” said Jacqui Mumford, chief executive officer of Nature Conservation Council NSW.  

“This is a devastating decision that now allows the ongoing destruction of critical habitat for endangered species based on outdated data. This case has revealed the inadequacy of our state and federal laws to protect nature. 

“We call on Minister Penny Sharpe to step up, throw out these outdated RFAs, make a transition plan and end the native forest logging industry for good. 

“Without action from the Minister, this decision could be the death knell for struggling species such as koalas and greater gliders.   

“This decision sets a dangerous precedent that could see forestry operations continue to be exempt from the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) without requiring a new assessment. 

“Why should Forestry Corporation NSW (FCNSW) get a pass to destroy critical habitat for endangered species and be exempt from federal environment laws? 

“A lot has happened in 27 years –– we saw the Black Summer bushfires wipe out vast swathes of the Australian bush, killing billions of animals; the impacts of climate change are worsening species decline; and scores of species have become threatened or endangered.   

“At the very least Minister Sharpe should be putting plans in place to bring RFAs into alignment with the current reality. 

Statements attributable to NCC Chief Executive Officer Jacqui Mumford: 

“If the laws regulating environmental protection aren’t doing their job, then it’s time for new laws.  

“This case could have been a lifeline for struggling endangered species but our forests now face an uncertain future.   

“It shouldn’t be up to hard-working and dedicated grassroots groups to protect forests – government regulations should be robust enough to serve their purpose.”  

“Both the Federal and NSW Government have acknowledged that the laws meant to protect vulnerable species aren’t working.  

“This case should be a wake up call that the overhaul of the EPBC Act needs to include strong standards that protect nature from all threats. 

“We need to arrest the sad trend of species decline and protect our forests. There are dozens of threatened and endangered species in areas that are currently or imminently being logged.  

“The only way to ensure the protection of these important species is to end the broadscale destruction of native forests.  

“It’s time to end native forest logging in NSW.” 

Statement ends  

Media contact: Anna Greer  
E: [email protected] Ph: 0493 733 529  

Note: NCC CEO Jacqui Mumford is available for comment on request   

Background  

There are nationally significant populations of over 11 nationally threatened animal species and 13 plant species in areas currently or proposed to be logged in the North-east NSW state forests. 

Nationally threatened species with significant populations in north-east NSW’s State forests that are currently being logged, or proposed for imminent logging:   

  1. Endangered: Koala, Southern Greater Glider, Spotted-tailed Quoll, Hastings River Mouse, Rufous Scrub Bird, Giant Barred Frog, (plants) White-flowered Wax Plant, Milky Silkpod, Cryptic Forest Twiner, Scrub Turpentine, Native Guava, and Moonee Quassia.   
  2. Vulnerable: Parma Wallaby, Grey-headed Flying-fox, South-eastern Glossy Black-Cockatoo, Sphagnum Frog, Stuttering Frog, (plants) Slender Marsdenia, Bordered Guinea Flower, Slaty Red Gum, Square-fruited Ironbark, Big Nellie Hakea, Trailing Woodruff and Orara Boronia. 

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