Sunday, 23 August 2020


In August 2018, at the request of the owner of a newly acquired bush property, the Clarence Environment Centre investigated a Private Native Forestry (PNF) operation that had been undertaken there immediately prior to the new owner taking possession.

That investigation uncovered horrific environmental damage, and blatant flouting of the PNF Code of Practice, under which the logging was approved. Hundreds of trees, many of them old-growth, were found to have been logged in breach of almost every section of the Code.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) was called in and a team of investigators descended on the property, spending 3 days documenting the reported breaches. Shortly thereafter, the new landowner received an email from the EPA stating: We did carry out further inspections of your property yesterday. We focused on consolidating on (taking further waypoints, measurements, notes and photographs) what we observed with you on 21.09.18 in area A. We also inspected sites that you previously visited and earmarked as potential breaches of the PNF Code. So far we have recorded a range of breaches, many of which have been repeated across the landscape

This was good news, but as the months passed without further word, memories of past disappointments over the EPA's failure to regulate the logging industry, flooded back. The months dragged into years, and a week before the 2 year statute of limitations was reached, the landowner received the bad news that the EPA had closed the case, stating: “Although the EPA identified that there were potential breaches of the PNF Code of Practice, it was not possible to identify the responsible party to the requisite level of proof”.

What a load of balloney! The property owners operated a sawmill on the property for years, up until the land changed hands. How can it possibly be claimed that because nobody actually witnessed the trees being cut down, that no one could be held responsible?

Things have to change but I'm not holding my breath, and I fear recent EPA stop work orders over alleged illegal logging in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest will likewise end in disappointment.

            - John Edwards

This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on August 17 ,  2020.