Logging begins at Bagawa State Forest in Forestry Corp harvest plan

Loaded logging trucks in Bagawa State Forest on Battery Road on Monday 15 August, working to the Forestry Corporation’s Harvest Plan.

BEYOND the ‘no entry’ sign is one of the most biodiverse and productive tall eucalypt forests on Earth.

The sign, fastened to a tree by Forestry Corporation workers to keep the public away from its logging operations, is within Bagawa State Forest, fronting Bagawa Road, between Coramba and Nana Glen.

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And the area is off limits until December 31, 2022, reserved by Forestry Corporation of NSW for the exclusive use of its contractors, support and supervising staff carrying out harvesting operations.

With logging in progress on Monday morning 15 August, neighbours could not see a Harvest Plan provided by the Forestry Corporation on its ‘PlanPortal’ for the operations, as required two days before operations begin*.

However a Forestry Corporation spokesperson told NOTA, “There was a technical issue with viewing the Bagawa plan earlier today, and this has now been rectified.

“Our operations are transparent with plans published on the plan portal on our website.”

Bagawa State Forest contains some of the most biodiverse and productive tall Eucalypt forests on the planet.

These forests are one of the richest expressions of the evolution of the quintessential Australian flora, the magnificent and high biomass tall eucalypt forests, across all space and time, say Indigenous people of Gumbaynggirr Country and local ecologists.

The proposed Great Koala National Park includes Bagawa State Forest for just this reason.

It contains a globally significant, high-density koala population with evidence of extremely high levels of koala activity throughout and into adjoining private properties.

Various endemic species have a stronghold within Bagawa State Forest, including the Orara Boronia (Boronia umbellata) and there are many rapidly-declining threatened species such as the recently-listed endangered greater glider and the vulnerable glossy black cockatoo with major strongholds within this public native forest.

Bagawa State Forest keeps Nana Creek and various tributaries of the Orara River flowing and clean.

Locals fear these logging operations will pollute these important catchments and compromise water security.

Logging trucks are traversing Battery Road, which also accommodates local walkers, hikers, horse riders and the local blueberry farm’s pickers.

A concerned, long-time resident of Nana Glen told News Of The Area, “Is an independent person up there? …

Because they should be … they can’t be trusted after the incident at Wild Cattle Creek in Bellingen,” she said.

“The species of trees they are targeting are blackbutt, spotted gum and to a lesser extent ironbark.”

The resident’s husband added, “Building timber is so expensive, they’re getting good money for the wood … they want 90 per cent blackbutt because it’s a good indoor-outdoor timber.”

According to these neighbours of Bagawa State Forest the Forestry Corporation should have Indigenous people doing their burning-off, “otherwise we’ll have another catastrophe like we did a few years ago (the 2019 bushfires).”

Jodie Nancarrow and Jayne Watson who live between Nana Glen and Coramba, with their direct western neighbour being Bagawa State Forest told NOTA, “We live where we live because we enjoy the unique landscape – biodiversity at its finest; beautiful forests from sub-tropical to dry sclerophyll, crystal clear creeks, peace and fulfillment.”

They recently declared their acreage ‘Land For Wildlife’**.

About May 2021 Jodie and Jayne learned that a large part of Bagawa forest was earmarked for logging.

“We contacted FCNSW and received a letter in August, stating their intention to ‘harvest’ in March 2022.

“We requested a site visit, they obliged and sent out a FCNSW representative to tell us what to expect and not to be concerned as they follow ‘best practice’ forestry management, adding, ‘Operations will be carried out in accordance with relevant FCNSW licences, codes and standard conditions’.”

However, last week when Jodie and Jayne went horse riding in the forest, they said they were surprised to see the road upgrades that had taken place along Battery Road.

“This meant one thing, logging starting soon, although we weren’t really sure because there had been no correspondence since October 2021 (10 months ago),” said Jodie.

The Forestry Corporation spokesperson said, “Forestry Corporation wrote to neighbours of Bagawa State Forest when we were planning this renewable timber-harvesting operation around 12 months ago”.

Jodie continued, “The insane premise that FCNSW do things by the book is just ludicrous.

“Our trust in them is at an all-time low with repeated local infringements and prosecutions, Clouds Creek, Wild Cattle Creek and Ellis State Forest, the tip of the iceberg.

“If logging continues, the exacerbated fire risk to many locals is intensified (intact forests stay moist, helping to suppress fire danger) and after the 2019 bushfires, nobody wants that,” she said.

“Habitat loss for some of our most iconic species, including koala, glossy black cockatoo, powerful owls, greater gliders, spotted-tailed quolls and endangered flora don’t stand a chance.

“This forest should be part of The Great Koala National Park, it’s a no brainer.”

With ecologists saying the industrial logging of the globally-significant forests currently underway in Bagawa SF amounts to a koala extinction operation, Jodie said, “It is noted that the chance of the koala being extinct by 2050 is upsetting, embarrassing and a disgrace.

“We will stand up and fight for our national icon because if we don’t, they can’t.”

A NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) spokesperson told NOTA, “The EPA received a complaint today about forestry operations in Bagawa State Forest.

“We are currently assessing the information.”

According to the FC spokesperson, “Forestry Corporation’s native forest operations only take place in regrowth forests that have been harvested for timber previously and regrown and harvesting is selective, with some trees harvested and others set aside for feed and shelter trees for koalas and other wildlife in line with strict environmental rules developed by expert, scientific panels.

“NSW has a world-class conservation network that permanently protects the majority of public native forests for conservation and only around one per cent of state forest is harvested each year,” the spokesperson said.

“Every operation is carefully planned and managed and each harvested area is quickly regenerated to ensure there remains a mix of young and mature forest across the landscape, supporting a diversity of wildlife.”

* Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval, Condition 53.5.

**Community Environment Network, see: https://www.cen.org.au/projects/land-for-wildlife



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