Coffs Coast ecologist alleges series of targeted incidents by Forestry Corporation

Mr Graham has been a long-time advocate for the protection of forests. Pictured here at a private conservation reserve at Hernani, between Ebor and Dorrigo. Photo: Gregg Borschmann.

COFFS Coast ecologist and logging activist Mark Graham has accused the Forestry Corporation of NSW of a series of incidents targeting him and his Billys Creek property adjoining the Clouds Creek State Forest.

One Forestry Corporation staff member has already faced Coffs Harbour local court over an alleged physical assault of Mr Graham in recent weeks.

Linked to LifeAdvertise with News of The Area today.
It’s worth it for your business.
Message us.
Phone us – (02) 4981 8882.
Email us –

Mr Graham, well known for his conservation work and protesting forestry operations, alleges that on 8 January 2024 Forestry Corporation staff trespassed onto his property, committing malicious damage by bulldozing a New England Blackbutt.

The long-term ecologist says the tree was the habitat of the endangered Southern Greater Glider.

Forestry Corporation officials admitted several days later via private correspondence to Mr Graham that the tree had been removed from his property without his permission, claiming the tree posed a safety risk to other road users.

“In relation to the entry into private property, this occurred after a crew identified a hazardous tree that had been blown onto State forest from the adjoining property, with the root ball partially exposed,” a Forestry Corporation of NSW spokesperson told News Of The Area.

“There was no question the tree could be saved as it had fallen and was only held up by other trees, with the tree leaning across the road and the head hung up within trees that were on State forest.

“The base of the hazardous tree was approximately five metres inside private property and the crew entered the property to remove the hazard without first consulting with the adjoining property owner, for which Forestry Corporation has apologised to the property owner.

“Staff and contractors have been reminded of the importance of engaging with neighbours when managing issues on land bordering State forests,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Graham claims the tree’s removal constitutes breaches to the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Several weeks later, on 1 February, a locked gate was installed on the only access road to Mr Graham’s property, locking him out of his home for almost three weeks.

The gate was around two kilometres from his home.

“That gate was intentionally, maliciously and vindictively installed to block me getting to my home,” Mr Graham said, claiming the lack of access to his property had caused his family significant costs, anxiety and stress.

On 21 February 2024, Mr Graham was informed by Forestry Corporation officials he could access his home once more.

When he arrived there, in the company of a neighbour, Mr Graham alleges he found two Forestry Corporation staff trespassing on his property, installing another gate.

Mr Graham says he then proceeded to demand the removal of the gate and the Forestry Corporation staff.

More Forestry Corporation staff then arrived, with one allegedly committing a physical assault on Mr Graham.

The alleged assault was referred to police, with the Forestry Corporation staff member, Luke Seccombe, charged with one count of common assault.

Mr Seccombe appeared before Coffs Harbour Local Court on February 27, with the case due to resume again on 23 April.

The Forestry Corporation spokesperson told NOTA that the organisation was “taking these matters seriously and will assist NSW Police in any investigations or inquiries”.

“It would not be appropriate to comment on matters under review or investigation by the police,” they said.

On 23 February 2024, two days after the alleged assault, Mr Graham claims a Forestry Corporation contractor threw a stone at his moving vehicle while travelling through Sheas Nob State Forest.

“It has been greatly concerning to me that there has been a targeted campaign against me personally by the Forestry Corporation of NSW and their many staff members and some contractors,” Mr Graham told NOTA this week.

“I really wish for the Forestry Corporation to stop persecuting and targeting me and harming me and my family.

“These are very targeted, malicious actions and that is of great concern to me and many others,” he said.

Mr Graham’s issues with Forestry Corporation and its logging company contractors are not new.

In January this year, Michael Luigi Vitali and Rodney James Hearfield of logging company Greensill Bros were found guilty of assaulting Mr Graham and another community member on a public road in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest on 25 June 2020.

The assaults were recorded on a mobile camera device by a Forestry Corporation employee.

After the incident, Mr Graham was initially charged by police for multiple offences, including trespass, which were later dropped.

Mr Graham said he spent close to $35,000 fighting those charges.

Environmental lawyer and Greens MLC Sue Higginson, who has served as Mr Graham’s legal representative in the past, agrees the ecologist has been systematically targeted by Forestry Corporation, its employees and contractors for several years.

“It started nearly four years ago when Mark was assaulted by logging contractors who were in the company of Forestry Corporation staff.

“It was one of those cases of gross injustice because Mark was the victim of an assault yet he was charged with an offence based on false information provided to the police by the Forestry Corporation, their employees and their contractors.

“It took almost four years to end that persecution and for the perpetrators of the assaults to be found guilty in the Coffs Harbour local court.”

Ms Higginson said Mr Graham has also been “abused in cafes, while driving his vehicle and even on his own property” by workers in the forestry sector.

“Mark has lawfully observed and reported logging operations for breaches and is a very successful advocate for the end of native forest logging and as a result he has been disrespected, abused and assaulted by the Corporation, its employees and contractors.”

The Greens MP, who is the party’s spokesperson for the environment and the Mid North Coast, described Forestry Corporation as “a rogue entity” which has been “regularly and systemically acting unlawfully”.

“The acting CEO of the Forestry Corporation told me in budget estimates that they take full responsibility for their employees and contractors, but they have done nothing yet to assist Mark as a victim of a violent crime that was committed by their contractors while they were at work,” she said.


4 thoughts on “Coffs Coast ecologist alleges series of targeted incidents by Forestry Corporation

  1. Thank you Mark for all you do to protect these magnificent forests. Stop logging!!! Save koala and wildlife habitat!!!

  2. This guy is trouble Beware always in court must think the laws do not apply to him so glad I was blocked from commenting on his Facebook posts as he sprouts absolute lies about people and publicly defames them yet always plays the victim

Leave a Reply