Nambucca Valley environmentalists say legal logging on private land shows gaps in wildlife protection

Local environmentalists say that endangered animals can be found near logging sites. Photo: supplied by FEA.

 

ENVIRONMENTALISTS are distraught that private land in Congarinni North is being selectively logged.

Tracey Reynolds lives directly opposite the property from which trees have been removed and is a Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) carer.

Ms Reynolds has released owlet nightjars, bandicoots, an echidna, swamp and redneck wallabies and antechinus (marsupial mice) on her property and the neighbouring property in question.

She says she has also seen a koala and koala scratchings on trees on the neighbouring property.

Ms Reynolds is deeply concerned that native animals in her immediate vicinity have had their habitat destroyed by the selective logging.

However, the logging is on private property, which is covered by the Private Native Forestry Code of Practice (PNF).

This code requires evidence that “a species has visited or regularly uses a site, and includes observations of, for example, faecal pellets or scats, chewed seed cones or a nest, or evidence that the site has been used as a latrine”, before logging can be questioned.

According to a spokesperson from Forest Ecology Alliance (FEA), a group of ecologists, community members and citizen scientists who are working towards the conservation of native forests, “PNF logging approvals are often granted years before logging commences, yet there is no requirement for community consultation or environmental assessment other than desktop data checks.

“Until concerned residents contact the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) no on ground assessment is conducted and by then it is sadly too late,” the spokesperson said.

In the case of Congarinni North, local residents contacted the EPA, whose representatives visited the logging site and found that there was compliance with the PFN.

News Of The Area spoke with the property owner and the logging contractor, and both said that they had not encountered koalas or any other endangered animals on the property.

The owner said that he had purchased the property ten years ago for the purpose of timber harvesting.

He said that the contractors use chainsaws to limit the damage to the forest.

However, this is of little consolation to conservationists, for whom any large tree cut down or any native animal killed is one too many.

The FEA spokesperson said, “Locals are increasingly concerned about the rapid acceleration of land clearing in our region.

“We hope that landholders will communicate with conservationists to discuss ways we can all protect healthy biodiversity,” the spokesperson said.

The owner and contractor are legally going about their business, and conservationists say that this demonstrates that native forest protection laws in New South Wales are ineffective and are urgently in need of review.

 

By Andrew VIVIAN

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