EPA involved as concerns mount over sediment control in Oakes State Forest

Kalang locals are concerned about the dangers posed by dust and sediment from recent road works. Photo: Kath Kelly.

ONE of the major arguments mounted by the Kalang River Forest Alliance (KRFA) against logging in Oakes State Forest (SF) is the perceived danger to water sources.

The Alliance, who claim that logging Oakes SF is ‘irresponsible’, have lodged numerous complaints to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and have only recently received a response.

As previously reported in News Of The Area, Forestry Corporation NSW (FCNSW) has been constructing road works to and in Oakes State Forest and the Alliance is very concerned that these works could result in contamination of creeks and rivers.

Under Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (CIFOA), forest management in NSW forests is required to be ecologically sustainable.

The KRFA notified the Environment Protection Authority that, in their opinion, road works conducted in Oakes SF breached the CIFOA and that FCNSW should have to vary its operations plan.

The EPA responded, asking for detail about the alleged breaches and reasons why FCNSW might have to vary its plans.

An EPA spokesperson told News Of The Area, “We are reviewing fresh information provided to us about concerns over sediment control in the Oakes State Forest which will form part of upcoming inspections.

“The EPA has a strong compliance and enforcement program for native forestry and takes appropriate action where non-compliance with the law is identified.”

The spokesperson also stated that broad-area habitat searches must be completed by FCNSW within six months of operations commencing.

A Forestry Corporation spokesperson said it has undertaken road works in Oakes State Forest to improve the roads ahead of a renewable timber harvesting operation.

The spokesperson said the work has been done in line with the rules in the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval including drainage and sediment control to ensure there is no damage to waterways.

Kath Kelly from the KRFA said there is “no doubt that disturbance of the soils will result in an irreversible water pollution event in the Kalang River”.

“The dust particles are so fine that the resulting sedimentation will smother all aquatic life, choke the river and degrade water quality and ongoing water security.

“It is clear that the instability of the soils in the Kalang headwaters is totally unsuitable for any disturbance, let alone industrial scale logging in the headwaters.

“We are seeking an immediate cessation of all road works and an end to logging in Oakes SF.”

By Andrew VIVIAN

Leave a Reply