Internal Forestry Corporation (FC) documents obtained through a freedom of information request by North Coast Environment Council (NCEC) reveal the state-owned corporation has conducted “unauthorised” clearing and intensive logging across 74,906 hectares of public native forests between Coffs Harbour and Taree since 2006.
“For over 10 years they have blatantly contravened the logging rules which were designed to maintain a natural multi-age forest structure,” NCEC spokeswoman Susie Russell said.
“Public native forest has been cleared and converting it to quasi-plantation. What is meant to be multi aged forests, with diverse under-stories, providing habitat for a plethora of native animals, is being converted into younger and younger regrowth where the under-storey is bulldozed bare.
“Many animals, including koalas, need the resources provided by older trees to survive.”
She said the type of logging permitted, ‘Single Tree Selection’, meant no more than four out of every 10 trees is permitted to be selected.
“Instead they are taking eight or nine trees out of every 10 and claiming it's not clear felling because a few scattered trees remain in a bulldozed landscape.”
She described this as “vandalism of a public asset on a scale that is breath-taking” and said about one in every three hectares of forest cleared was high quality koala habitat, according to the mapping recently released by the Environment Protection Authority.
Lyn Orrego from the North East Forest Alliance said Forestry Corporation was required to search all areas for koalas before logging.
“But out of the 4,700 hectares of mapped high quality koala habitat currently being logged in north east NSW public forests only two Koala High Use Areas, totalling 1.2 ha are protected,” Ms Orrego said.
“Now we can see why koala numbers have declined by 50 per cent on the north coast in the last 15-20 years.”
The groups are calling on the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian to hold an inquiry into the Forestry Corporation practices and also want to know why the Environment Protection Authority does not take action to force Forestry Corporation to comply with the logging rules.