Forests NSW has strenuously denied the claims of Greens David Shoebridge MLC and Cr Mark Graham that is has overlogged the Wedding Bells State Forest.
Forests NSW has strenuously denied the claims of Greens David Shoebridge MLC and Cr Mark Graham that is has overlogged the Wedding Bells State Forest. Trevor Veale

Forests NSW denies logging claims

FORESTS NSW has been accused of reducing a forest west of Woolgoolga to little more than a "moonscape".

Greens MLC David Shoebridge yesterday inspected a 200-hectare compartment of the Wedding Bells State Forest with local Greens councillor Mark Graham to see if the government department was in breach of harvesting guidelines.

Far from happy with what they saw, they concluded the evidence of clear felling pointed to a significant move by Forests NSW to turn the richly biodiverse landscape into a monoculture blackbutt plantation.

“If this is allowed to go unchecked it will kill the biodiversity of the forest,” Mr Shoebridge said.

“It is effectively allowing clear-felling piecemeal.

"It is not 60 per cent retention, it is close to a moonscape up there in different parts.

“These breaches are not isolated.

"Last year numerous breaches were found at Doubleduke and Grange state forests.

“Due to pressure from private companies to meet unrealistic and unsustainable timber supply contracts in North-East NSW there is a systematic overharvest of native forests occurring.

“This is leading to unacceptable degradation of High Conservation Value forests.

"In many areas of Wedding Bells State Forest the forest has been completely removed.”

The Greens colleagues further claimed that Forests NSW had harvested part of a sub-tropical rainforest as well as areas around unmapped drainage creeks.

Cr Graham said that could possibly impact on the endangered Oxleyan Pygmy Perch which lives in the Corindi River and needs a clean river system in which to survive.

“Evidence of bulldozing and burning of subtropical rainforest has been found,” Cr Graham said.

“In the ash bed that remains, Forests NSW have planted Blackbutt seedlings.

"The conversion of High Conservation Value native forests to a monoculture plantation is completely unacceptable and results in the loss of all biodiversity in these exceptionally diverse and important native forests.”

However Forests NSW Native Forest Operations planning and environment manager Andy Stirling said Forests NSW was undertaking a legal timber harvesting operation in Wedding Bells State Forest.

“Forests NSW is not overharvesting the forests and is not impacting on identified high conservation value areas set aside for protection,” Mr Stirling said.

“Forests NSW operations are authorised under the Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs) and are regulated by the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Department of Primary Industries Fisheries division.

"An inspection of the areas has revealed there has been no interference with endangered ecological communities.

“Areas of rainforest which are already represented on agreed maps are excluded from harvest, and where other areas of rainforest are found outside the mapped areas that comply with the specifications, they too, are excluded from harvest.

“Forests NSW had also made provision for the protection of riparian zones in the harvest area that have provided for the protection of fish habitat further downstream."

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