Forestry Corp machines leave Nambucca State Forest

TIME TO BREATH: Gumabynggirr custodians Aunty Lauren Jarrett, Uncle Bud Marshall, Uncle Micklo Jarrett, Melissa Greenwood and Uncle Roger Jarrett celebrate the departure of Forestry Corp
TIME TO BREATH: Gumabynggirr custodians Aunty Lauren Jarrett, Uncle Bud Marshall, Uncle Micklo Jarrett, Melissa Greenwood and Uncle Roger Jarrett celebrate the departure of Forestry Corp

It has been an intense five weeks for those working with the 'Protect Nambucca State Forest' campaign but last Wednesday there was a moment of reprieve with the departure of Forestry Corp machinery.

The group have been on site to stop the desecration of precious koala habitat as well as sites that hold significant cultural value for the Gumbaynggirr people, who say they had not given consent for logging to occur.

Gumbaynggirr spokesperson Sandy Greenwood said it was a chance to celebrate the tireless efforts of Gumbaynggirr custodians and the local community.

"We have sent a strong message to the NSW Forestry Corp that their relentless destruction of sacred country will be met with fierce resistance," Sandy said.

"Our ancestors fought hard to protect country and it has been their presence and protection that has given us an enormous strength to continue this fight."

The Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group collected over 23,000 signatures on a petition that was tabled in NSW Parliament and maintained a vigil camp at the entry of the forest, which was visited by many.

Last week work was halted when an activist locked onto a harvester - she was arrested by police. This came after rain and formal court proceedings had interrupted logging operations for the two weeks previous.

Forestry Corporation's version of this operation does however differ with a spokesperson saying operations in the section of regrowth forest in Nambucca State Forest planned for 2020 were largely complete in line with the harvest plans developed in ongoing consultation with the local Aboriginal community.

"A small section of the operation cannot be completed in the current wet weather conditions and will be suspended until a future date," he said.

"The operation in Nambucca State Forest has provided high value sustainable wood products to the local timber industry and communities rebuilding following fires, while protecting the threatened species and cultural heritage sites within the forest."

Forestry Corporation will be carrying out additional works in the coming weeks to improve facilities for the local mountain bike club.

Further protests:

Meanwhile up on the plateau actions are currently taking place to prevent logging at Wild Cattle Creek near Cascade, where two activists locked onto machines yesterday (Monday).

As with the Nambucca action, Gumbaynggirr custodians and community members are calling for an immediate end to logging in native forests.

Custodians say no prior consent was given for the operation and have issued a 'trespass notice' to Forestry Corp.

Gumbaynggirr woman Sandy Greenwood said the notice demanded that logging of all Gumbaynggirr country stop due to lack of jurisdiction and no conciliation or consent.

"International and domestic law are being breached here ... as the sovereign custodians of Gumbaynggirr land and waters, we demand an end to logging in these irreplaceable and incredibly ancient publicly-owned forests," Sandy said.

Community activists argue the operation is in valuable koala habitat in country that was spared from the devastating Liberation Trail bushfire in November.

Friends of Nymboida Haedwaters say the forests being logged are very tall, lush and moist and are part of the ancient Gondwanan natural heritage that only occurs in Northern New South Wales and far southern Queensland.

"These forests narrowly avoided being impacted by the massive Liberation Trail fire in November that burnt through the majority of the Nymboida River catchment," a spokesperson said.

"These forests are a critically important unburnt refuge that is now being massively impacted by large logging machines causing extensive soil disturbance and destruction of ground vegetation. This will make these forests much more fireprone."

Information courtesy of ecologist Mark Graham

Information courtesy of ecologist Mark Graham

A Forestry Corporation spokesperson said the operation in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest was in line with the strict conditions regulating forestry in NSW.

"The area in Wild Cattle Creek is regrowth forest having been harvested for timber and regenerated many times previously," she said.

"Of the native forest within the Wild Cattle Creek compartments, 57 per cent of the site is permanently protected. The measures in place to protect koala habitat during timber harvesting were developed in a process lead by the EPA with Forestry Corporation and expert forest scientists and ecologists."

She said measures developed ensure habitat is protected and koala populations maintained during and after operations.

"Harvesting in this forest will only be a light selective harvest and all harvested areas will be completely regenerated after harvesting."

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