Numerous serious breaches of environmental law by the Forestry Corporation uncovered by the Environmental Protection Authority underscores the need for an immediate moratorium on native forest logging.
The EPA has ordered the Forestry Corporation to stop logging in two forests in the past week — South Brooman State Forest near Batemans Bay and Wild Cattle Creek State Forest near Coffs Harbour — after it found the corporation had destroyed old-growth and habitat trees.
“Forestry Corporation is a government enterprise but it operates like a cowboy outfit with little regard for the law,” NCC Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.
“The corporation has been breaking environmental laws for years but has only rarely been brought to account, so it is good to see the EPA cracking down.
“But a 40-day stop work order won't bring back the hollow-bearing trees the Forest Corp destroyed in South Brooman forest.
“After the fires, this senseless destruction just loads the dice in favour of extinctions.
“The Forestry Corporation has demonstrated time and again that it cannot be trusted to obey the law.
“The government should go further to protect our forests by declaring a moratorium on native forest logging so wildlife has time to recover after the devastating bushfires.
“It’s a simple requirement in the aftermath of the bushfire that hollow-bearing trees are protected and must not be cut down, but Forestry Corporation has failed repeatedly to obey that very simple requirement. It has demonstrated repeatedly that it cannot be trusted with our precious forests.
“If we want koalas and other threatened species to survive into the future we have to stop cutting down their forests. It is that simple.
“The Brooman forests stop-work order was a result of the vigilance of the Brooman State Forest Conservation Group, the Coastwatchers Association and Friends of the Forest (Mogo) who documented and reported these breaches.
“These hollow-bearing trees, and the giant trees illegally felled in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest, are critical habitat for wildlife struggling to bounce back after the devastating bushfires.
“These trees were critical habitat for vulnerable masked owls, glossy-black cockatoos and yellow-bellied gliders.
“The EPA is doing important work to identify these breaches and crack down on Forestry Corporations culture of law breaking.
“These are serious matters that can lead $5 million fines. Forestry Corporation should pay for these crimes.”
The Nature Conservation Council supports a government assistance package for the forest industry and its employees during this very difficult time. Any such assistance package must require a commitment to the transition from native forests to sustainably managed plantations and a just structural adjustment package for contractors, mill owners and employees.