Saving native forests first

Frances Pike with The Golden Pup (aka her dog Buster) and her ute.
Frances Pike with The Golden Pup (aka her dog Buster) and her ute.

Weed expert Frances Pike is so concerned with the NSW Government’s logging practices she has quit her job in Sydney to travel the east coast and raise awareness of what she calls “environmental slaughter”.

Frances came through Lismore this week in her ute with a ‘’ logo and forests painted on the car (and a large Shrek doll on the roof) in an effort to catch people’s eyes and gain media attention around the issue.

She believes the logging practices Forests NSW are employing to meet its quota of sawlogs promised in Wood Supply Agreements (WSA) with Boral are borderline illegal and will decimate the habitat of wildlife and render regeneration of native forests after logging impossible.

“We are already in an acknowledged weed crisis and when I began researching I found that over 20 years of my work, and that of every other environmental land manager or group, is being sabotaged by a state agency,” Frances said. “The effects are already almost irreversible and each month it continues it gets worse. We’re talking about the destruction of our carbon sinks, of habitat and biodiversity, of waterways, threatened species and entire ecosystems.”

Frances has worked for many years in invasive species field work, both marine and terrestrial, and in the 1990s founded TENTACLE (The Environmental Network Training Against Lethal Endproducts) to train people in cradle-to-grave sustainability.

Frances said when she first heard about Forests NSW practices in March last year, she headed out to a logging site in the Mid North Coast’s Kerewong State Forest to see what was happening with her own eyes.

“When I first went to the forest to see what was being harmed, I found all these camphor laurel seedlings; they have removed too many trees and had changed the amount of light in the forest. If we lose any more canopy in many of our native forests we will have an epidemic of camphor laurels,” she said. “I also found creatures being actively evicted from their homes as logging took place, which makes them prey for feral animals, and they have no habitat to return to. I’m trying to make people aware of the need for a state/federal buyout of wood supply licences before these forests are damaged beyond repair. I believe this is more important than any other single issue.”

Frances pointed to the 2009 NSW Auditor-General’s report on ‘Sustaining Native Forest Operations’ that indicated Forests NSW would face difficulties managing supply in the future especially for large, high quality sawlogs.

It also states that in a WSA signed in 2003 the NSW Government waived its rights to reduce commitments without compensating industry for any loss, which removed Forests NSW’s ability to better manage supply risks by adjusting commitments.

“To meet wood supply commitments, the native forest managed by Forests NSW on the North Coast is being cut faster than it is growing back,” the report stated.

The report said this was forcing Forests NSW to use plantation hardwood and look for new sources of hardwood timber to meet existing commitments from private property and leasehold land. However, this is where Frances believes Forests NSW is using tricky tactics to continue meeting its WSA quotas with native forest timbers.

“What we’re seeing is giant bulldozers and cutting machines, highly industrialised logging, instead of people with chainsaws selecting logs ready for harvest,” she said. “Under Integrated Forestry Operations Approval, which Forests NSW must comply with, the licence says they are not meant to take more than 40% of wood that has a diameter of 20cm or more. However when they do a forest plan they often include a whole section of forest that is not part of the actual logging site, which might not even be ready for harvest for another five years, but because it’s on the harvest plan it boosts the amount of harvestable wood they are claiming they can fell. It’s a massively flawed compliance system and it’s leading to virtual clear-felling.”

She said whilst researching in Kerewong State Forest the amount of timber leaving the forest was staggering.

“In Kerewong I counted in excess of 40 trucks a day each carrying 120 logs from one sub catchment alone, for seven to eight months. I also noted multiple breaches of their own licensing conditions during that time,” she said. “I have interviewed Forests NSW workers and they believe the wider agenda for NSW is the conversion of native forests to single species plantations to ensure supply to a multinational.

“Ecologists have said if this continues there will be localised extinctions across NSW. It’s the definitely the greatest crisis NSW forests and wildlife has ever faced.”

Frances is planning to be back in Sydney next week to raise awareness there before the state election. You can find out more about her crusade and what you can do to support her campaign at

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Weekend remembering the forever young

Weekend to Remember our loved ones killed on the roads.

Paul Capsis set to bring the music to Tropical Fruits

HIT: Paul Capsis accepts his award for Best Performance in an Australian Contemporary Concert at the 6th Annual Helpmann Awards in Sydney, Monday, July, 31, 2006.

With a show called Addicted to the Nightlife

Daughters break down in nursing home murder trial

Outside Sydney Supreme Court for the trial of accused murderer Megan Jean Haines are (from left) Shannon Parkinson (granddaughter of suspected murder victim and St Andrew's aged care centre resident Marie Darragh) and Janet Parkinson and Charli Darragh (daughters).

Account of mother's autopsy drives daughters to tears

Local Partners

Exterminate! Exterminate! The Daleks are coming

THE Power of the Daleks is one of the most celebrated Doctor Who adventures, revived in a brand new animartion 50 years after it was broadcast in the UK

November will be a big month for NORPA

ARTS: NORPA has added new shows to the Dreamland season from November 23 to December 10.

Peter Garrett, Dreamland and the 2017 Season Launch, among others

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

Declan Kelly and the Rising Sun to shine bright at festival

Declan Kelly & The Rising Sun is one of the headlining acts at this year's festival.

Main stage set to pump with radiant reggae and dub vibes

Tom Cruise credits success to Scientology

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise credits his success to Scientology

Hacksaw Ridge leads AACTA Awards nominations

Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer in a scene from the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

MEL Gibson's wartime drama opens in cinemas next week.

Top 5 events at Tropical Fruits 2016

IT'S ON: Tropical Fruits Festival over New Years.

Festival guide hits the streets this weekend

ABBA to reunite for virtual live experience


ABBA have confirmed they are to reunite - in virtual reality form

Hugh Laurie receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hugh Laurie on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hugh Laurie and his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Paul Capsis set to bring the music to Tropical Fruits

HIT: Paul Capsis accepts his award for Best Performance in an Australian Contemporary Concert at the 6th Annual Helpmann Awards in Sydney, Monday, July, 31, 2006.

With a show called Addicted to the Nightlife

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June