Lies in logging battle

North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) member Dailan Pugh said the government’s response to complaints of illegal logging by Forests NSW in Yabbra State Forest is the height of hypocrisy.

In December NEFA called on the NSW Environment Minister Frank Sartor to prosecute Forests NSW for illegally logging in native forests following an audit of Yabbra State Forest, west of Bonalbo, where they claim to have discovered breaches of more than 50 statutory licence conditions and four Acts of Parliament.

“I was informed by the Minister for Forests office there would be an independent review but it turns out it’s just another arm of Forests NSW,” Dailan said. “To me independent means independent of Forests NSW. To discover it’s another branch of Forests NSW was a bit shocking.”

Dailan said he was also gobsmacked when Forests NSW denied there had been any breach of the threatened species license requirements, despite a report by wildlife ecologist David Milledge claiming there were numerous breaches.

“When I first started looking into these breaches, I asked Forests NSW if they were aware of any breaches and a Forests NSW officer in Casino admitted to me there had been a breach of the Threatened Species Licence requirements documented by the district office,” Dailan said. “For Forests NSW to then publicly deny there has been any breaches is staggering – the height of hypocrisy. Blind Freddie can see it’s replete with breaches – whoever went out there should have seen that. I just think it’s outrageous, they are being misleading and what they’re saying misrepresents the truth to the public, and I think quite deliberately. I think they owe the public an apology.”

Dailan said on his last visit to Yabbra State Forest he discovered a further 1.7 hectares of rainforest that had been mapped as plantation and logged on top of what was recorded in the original NEFA audit.

“Under the plantation code, mapped areas of rainforest should be protected and excluded from all logging,” he said.

To add insult to injury, Dailan found Forests NSW’s operations had encroached onto his private land, which is adjacent to the State Forest.

“It appears to me they have marked where they thought my boundary was and then after marking my boundary they have bulldozed through the boundary markers and fence posts to improve access to their logging dump,” Dailan said. “It appears to be quite deliberate – they’ve bulldozed over trees, bulldozed a road, and bulldozed snigging tracks onto my property. They are now trying to tell me it was done to protect my property from a burn that got out of control, after they had finished logging.

“Under the Rural Fires Act they have to give 24 hours before they light a fire but at no time did they tell me. They reckon the fire was burning for a week-and-a-half and my property was under threat, but they made no attempt to contact me whatsoever. It’s outrageous to claim the intrusion onto my property didn’t occur until after the logging and was done to protect it. I’m shocked and disgusted.”

Dailan is now considering his options and whether to take further action against Forests NSW about the situation on his land. Meanwhile, NEFA is awaiting the ’independent’ report from Forests NSW and another report from the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water into the alleged breaches.

Minister Sartor’s office had not returned The Echo’s calls at the time of going to press.

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