Protest outside the Forestry NSW Coffs Harbour office in July.
Protest outside the Forestry NSW Coffs Harbour office in July.

Controversial logging plans withdrawn in wake of fires

FOLLOWING months of protests, community action group Friends of Kalang Headwaters has revealed controversial plans to log the forests of the Kalang River Headwaters near Bellingen have been abandoned.

The group's spokesperson Caroline Joseph said the NSW Environment Protection Agency has withdrawn permission for the Forestry Corporation of NSW to log the area, which includes old growth forest.

Ms Joseph said she understands the decision was made shortly before Christmas at the height of the fire threat.

"This is a wise decision," she said.

"The Bellingen Shire community has been calling for this area to be protected for months.

"Not only does the area contain one of the largest populations of koala left on the East Coast, these unlogged forests are vital to the water supply of the Shire."

Protest outside the Coffs Harbour Forestry NSW office in July.
Protest outside the Coffs Harbour Forestry NSW office in July.

The group had been holding a community-based vigil of the area since August last year, and recently won the support of the Municipal Council for a 13,000ha nature reserve for the subtropical rainforests and the eucalypt forests of the headwaters.

The proposal to log the headwaters was first put on the table by Forestry Corporation NSW in 2017.

The proposal intended to open up over twenty logging compartments in the Kalang River catchment.

Locals had expressed their opposition to the plans through a number of protests and blockades since, citing concerns such as a lack of communication, the removal of habitat trees, the risk to threatened species and the fragility of the soil.

Ms Joseph said the group will now be seeking an urgent meeting with Environment Minister Matthew Kean to ensure the forests are "permanently protected."

"This EPA decision gives our headwater forests the break they deserve," Ms Joseph said.

"With so much loss of habitat in the wake of this summer's fires, we cannot afford to lose any more."



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