Earlier this month a protest gathering in the Clouds Creek State Forest was attended by local residents, political candidates, and representatives from local environment and community groups. The action was called to protest Forest Corp's plan to log the forest early in 2019, including use of “intensive single tree selection” (aka virtual clear-fell).
Clouds Creek's forests are some the most fertile in NSW, supporting tall wet sclerophyll and rainforest communities which, unfortunately, have experienced dreadful over-logging for many decades. Old stumps measuring upwards of 2 metres diameter indicate what used to be, but today trees greater than 700mm are a rarity, with only widely scattered old or deformed trees remaining which were unsuitable for timber.
As part of the Regional Forests Agreement, signed in 2000, all rainforest and old-growth forest was mapped and protected. However, immediately prior to the signing, and knowing those old-growth forests would be “locked up”, the then Forests NSW moved into Clouds Creek and absolutely decimated them.
Protestors at the time managed to blockade and save some areas that are now part of the Nymboi-Binderay National Park, but much of the old growth was lost in that 1999 blitz.
In 2010 to 2012, Forests NSW returned for another round of harvesting, this time supposedly legally, but still managed to interpret the clause calling for a maximum 20% basal area logging rate, to allow rates as high as 80%, which after the trampling and destruction of smaller vegetation by industrial logging machines, is virtually clear-felling.
Following that old-growth logging episode, Koalas which were relatively common in the mid1990s, judging by the fauna surveys undertaken at the time, were found to be virtually non-existent in a 2017 survey conducted by the Office of Environment and Heritage.
Another previously common forest resident, the Greater Glider which was recently added to the threatened species list, also could not be found during the 2018 pre-harvest survey by Forests Corp.
With Government planning to extend the Agreements for another 20 years, and more logging planned, is it any wonder residents and the broader community are appalled by what is happening,
- John Edwards
This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on January 28, 2019.