More illegal logging accusations

Activists claim that giant trees are being logged. Photo: Mark Graham.

ABOUT 40 people, locals, staged what they termed ‘a peaceful and lawful walk-on’ into logging operations in Ellis State Forest by Forestry Corporation (FCNSW) contractors last week.

The activists consider the logging illegal because they say it is in an old-growth forest and that giant trees have been recently destroyed.

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Mark Graham, who operates a local private conservation reserve, said, “It is appalling that the same agency, with the very same public servants and contractors responsible for the illegal destruction of giant trees, koala habitat and rainforest at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest, are allowed to operate at all.

He said, “Centuries-old brush boxes, blue gums and tallowwoods have been felled in recent days in these globally-significant forests.”

He said, “Ellis State Forest is a critical part of the proposed Great Koala National Park with the giant tallowwood trees that provide food to the endangered koala recently destroyed.”

A spokesperson for Forestry Corporation told News Of The Area, “Timber is an important renewable resource and Forestry Corporation has a team of professionally-trained staff who work to carry out operations safely and in compliance with the environmental regulations.”

The spokesperson said, “Every operation is closely monitored for compliance by Forestry Corporation and operations are also independently audited by the EPA (Environment Protection Authority).”

Forestry Corporation said regulations for logging are very detailed and no breaches have been identified “in this selective harvesting operation, which is taking place in regrowth forest”.

The spokesperson said State forests are routinely closed for the community’s safety during timber harvesting because they are active worksites with many hazards, and it is extremely unsafe to enter an active worksite.

The spokesperson was adamant that closure notices had been erected on the gates of Ellis State Forest and said that, in line with the Forestry Regulations, information about closures was published on the Forestry Corporation website.

(The notice for Ellis State Forest is at
Mr Graham had a different perspective, and said, “At no stage was it stated that the forest was closed, nor were any orders issued about this or for anyone to move on.”

He said, “There were no signs indicating that the forest was legally closed”.

Mr Graham has written to the EPA insisting logging operations be immediately stopped.

In response, the EPA investigated Mr Graham’s claims and subsequently found there was no justification for a stop work order.

On Wednesday afternoon it issued a statement in relation to logging operations in Ellis State Forest and allegations four giant trees had been harvested and seven giant trees damaged during forestry operations.

It found that none of the harvested trees fall within the definition of a giant tree under the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (CIFOA) and Protocols.

The inspection confirmed six trees had received superficial damage but the damage was not considered serious enough to affect the tree’s longevity or suitability to fulfill the purpose for which it was retained under the CIFOA.

The inspection also found that a seventh tree had been uprooted by the wind.

The EPA said there was insufficient evidence to warrant the issue of a Stop Work Order, but its investigations were continuing.

By Andrew VIVIAN

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