Community groups have responded with disbelief at the content of a recent posting by the NSW Forestry Corporation on the proposed logging of forests in the Kalang River catchment.
Logging of the forests in the headwaters of the Kalang River has been controversial with well attended protest meetings held recently in Kalang Valley and Bellingen.
“The NSW Forestry Corporation’s website posting bears little resemblance to what is actually going on in the forests of the Kalang River catchment and further blemishes the reputation of the Forestry Corporation in the Bellingen Valley” Bellingen Environment Centre’s (BEC) Ashley Love said.
“The site says that NSW Forests is “passionate about the forest environment…” but an audit by members of the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) located a 1.5 metre diameter habitat tree, identified and clearly marked for protection, that had been pushed over by loggers.
“The tree, possibly the largest in the forest compartment, was a Grey Gum, a preferred food tree for koalas, and had numerous koala claw marks on the bark.”
A spokesperson for Forestry Corporation of NSW said that during the harvesting operation in Gladstone State Forest, a tree marked as a habitat tree was removed due to safety concerns.
“At the time, staff identified another suitable tree to retain in its place and this process is allowed for under the regulations,” she said.
The BEC was also critical of fauna surveys done, which they said overlook a number of endangered ecological communities.
“The Forestry Corporation website claims the Kalang River catchment forests “… are dynamic and diverse and are the home to a vast array of flora and fauna ” and, that professional ecologists survey the wildlife to identify threatened species before harvesting,” Mr Love said.
“A review by the BEC of the pre-logging surveys for four compartments conducted over a period of days and covering 735 hectares in the Kalang forests showed the surveys produced scant results.
“The Forestry Corporation ecologists fauna surveys observed only one threatened species (Glossy Black Cockatoo), heard another calling (Yellow Bellied Glider) and collected six koala scats.
“The botanists flora surveys recorded one rare plant species and whilst endangered ecological communities were a target of the surveys, none were located.
“Subsequent mapping by the Environment Protection Authority mapped over 100 hectares of Lowland Rainforest, an endangered ecological community, in the compartments.
“And within five minutes of searching in the forest recently a local community member had located eight koala scats.”
The Forestry Corp spokeswoman said planning and surveys were still underway for operations in Roses Creek and Scotchman State Forests.
“Forestry Corporation completes a range of surveys and prepares detailed plans before any harvesting operation and this planning is still underway in Roses Creek and Scotchman State forests.
“In these particular compartments, about 80 per cent of the area will not be touched because areas are permanently set aside to protect rainforest, waterways, threatened species or other environmental features, so the ecology surveys we complete focus on the small remaining area that is available for harvesting.
“In addition, the ecology reports we have shared with the community form only one part of a range of information we consider when preparing harvest plans.
“We also access detailed mapping of threatened ecological communities prepared and published by the Environment Protection Authority, rainforest maps and threatened species database records to ensure our plans identify and protect wildlife and sensitive environmental features throughout and surrounding the small harvest area.
“Plans incorporating all of this information will be made available to the community before work commences.”