• North Coast Environment Council

    Formed in 1976, we are the peak umbrella environment group in northern NSW. We cover the area from the Hunter to the Tweed and west to the New England Highway. We also actively support other campaigns further afield. We receive no government funding and have no paid staff or central office. Our members and office-bearers work around the region, often travelling large distances to assist others as we organise in our defence of the environment and the communities it sustains. We rely on donations and the efforts of our members and volunteers, to remain effective. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to assist us with our work, we guarantee plenty of bang for your buck. Post us a message to this site and we will get back to you.
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Public can have no confidence in so-called logging ‘trial’

“The public can have no confidence that anything beneficial for the forests will come from Forestry Minister Niall Blair’s logging ‘trial’”, claimed NCEC spokesperson Susie Russell.

“As always, with State-run forestry, this process lacks transparency and scientific rigour. We believe the whole process is solely aimed at intensifying logging and cutting costs, mainly jobs.

“We call on the Minister to release the ‘trial’ conditions and the exact locations where it will take place before logging commences. This will at least provide some opportunity for independent scrutiny, as we have learnt from long experience that neither the Forestry Corporation or the EPA are effective at identifying breaches of logging licence conditions.

“The reference to ‘coupes’ suggests that what is being planned is clearfelling as practiced by the Forestry Corp around Eden, where the forests have been fed to the woodchip mill and now there is hardly a koala to be found. We are deeply concerned about what this means for the endangered species managing to keep a toe-hold in State Forests,” Ms Russell said.

“The ‘trial’ was not mentioned in the stakeholder consultation process. We have now been provided with a list of 66 potential areas where the trial could take place, and yet our analysis shows that logging had commenced in 43 of those areas before this announcement, so 65% of them are presumably ruled out.

“Of the remaining 21 that are on the logging schedule (2 are not), the average net logging area is 77 ha. So we think the Minister’s claims that not more than 200 hectares will be logged as part of the trial is misleading, and will certainly be attempting to keep him to that figure of 200 hectares.

“Allowing more intensive logging so the very wealthy can have solid blackbutt floorboards should not be the prime concern of Governments in 2015. They would be far better looking at the benefits accrued to the public by allowing our forests to recover from decades of mismanagement. We will be seeking a meeting with the Minister to discuss these issues,” Ms Russell said.


COALition continues forest rampage…

Following hot on the heels of yesterday’s speech by Prime Minister Abbott who called the logging industry “the ultimate conservationists’, the NSW Government today made a regulation allowing native forest to be burned in power stations opening the way for it to be classed as a ‘renewable energy source’.


“The government wants environmentally conscious consumers to pay for the destruction of endangered species habitat,” said NCEC President Susie Russell.



“It will also allow the already heavily subsidised mining industry to burn native forests and woodlands to generate their electricity and seek renewable energy credits.

“COALition Governments have no respect for forests. They can’t see the trees for the wood. It seems they will stoop to any depths to pursue their anti-green anti-environment agenda. Claims that this will not increase logging and will be overseen by the EPA are farcical.



“The Government is in the process of winding back a whole raft of forest protection measures in the name of efficiency.



“The EPA has been shown to be a toothless tiger that has failed to act on evidence of breaches, and when it has been roused to action only manages to deliver pathetic slaps on the wrist such as letters or paltry fines. The community has no confidence in the EPA being able to regulate forestry.



“There is plenty of scientific evidence to show that older trees store more carbon, provide better habitat, produce more water of higher quality, provide more nectar and honey, are more resilient to fire and have greater appeal to humans on aesthetic and spiritual grounds.



“Everything this taxpayer subsidised logging industry is doing compromises all of those positive values.



“This will be another nail in the coffin of the renewable energy industry that is being sabotaged by COALition Governments at both State and Federal levels determined to prop up an energy sector based on either fossilised wood or now, living wood,” Ms Russell said.



The failure of either the Environment Minister Robyn Parker or the Forestry Minister Katrina Hodgkinson to prevent the destruction of habitat for threatened species such as the Koala, Marbled Frogmouth, Masked and Sooty Owls and the Pouched Frog on a property near Nightcap National Park in far north east NSW is an environmental crime, said NCEC President Susie Russell.

“The logging of the private property is being done by the Forestry Corporation. The Forestry Corporation needs to log private land because it is unable to meet it’s timber commitments from public land and the Government has failed to renegotiate wood supply contracts.

“It is being done under approval from the Environment Protection Authority. But it is being logged according the appallingly lax Private Native Forest Code of Practice.

“However even this Code is being breached,” she said.

“When there are confirmed records of the species listed above, protection measures should be triggered. First Forestry Corporation failed to survey for threatened species that were likely to occur in the area, but now they have been identified by a respected fauna expert, Forestry have gone on logging habitat that is required by the code to be protected. The plight of these species can no longer be ignored.

“It is shameful that neither Minister intervened to stop this unlawful logging after they were informed of the new records. For the Ministers to sanction the ongoing destruction of habitat legally required to be protected for species known to be in the area can only be a sign that the NSW Government is prepared to literally run the environment into the ground.

“The NCEC supports those community members who have attempted to stop this unlawful logging activity, but it should not be up to volunteer community groups to undertaken surveys in areas being logged by the Forestry Corporation because they refuse to, and then be up to community groups to have to force the required prescriptions to be applied.

“This is only the most recent example of many cases where the Forestry Corporation have failed to look for threatened species and gone on logging habitat that is meant to be protected until caught out by community groups. The Ministers must do something about this because the Environment Protection Authority will not.

“We call on Premier O’Farrell to immediately require his Ministers to uphold the law with respect to threatened species,” Ms Russell said.


Conservation groups have written to the NSW Minister for the Environment and Minister for Primary Industries asking them to take urgent action to stop illegal logging of Rufous Scub-bird habitat in Styx River State Forest, east of Armidale, and instigate an independent inquiry.

The Rufous Scrub-bird is a small secretive understorey bird of highland wet forests in north-east NSW. It is a living fossil with a lineage dating back 97 to 65 million years but is now listed as vulnerable to extinction, with burning and logging recognised as primary threats.

North East Forest Alliance Spokesperson Dailan Pugh said that in 2007 a Forests NSW ecologist saw Rufous Scrub-birds at 7 locations in compartment 502 of Styx River State Forest.

“Forests NSW identified these records as extremely reliable and they were included in NSW’s Wildlife Atlas.

“Forests NSW’s Threatened Species Licence requires that all suitable habitat within 320 metres of such records must be protected from logging and management burns.
“When a local conservationist inspected the area in March he was shocked to find that Forests NSW had burnt the bird’s habitat and were in the process of logging it. When he checked their logging plans he found that all the records of the Rufous Scrub-birds had been deleted” Mr. Pugh said.

North Coast Environment Council President Susie Russell said she had met with the regional forester about the issue. “I was told that when planning the current logging Forests NSW questioned their ecologist about his records and decided that he had erroneously identified a common bird for the Rufous Scrub-bird.

“In an astounding move, apparently without undertaking new surveys, Forests NSW then attempted to delete all records made by their ecologist and proceeded to ignore both the records of the Rufous Scrub-bird and the mapped habitat in their planning process.

“We know that Forests NSW are desperate for timber and it seems they are prepared to go to any length, including breaching their licence conditions, to obtain it” Ms Russell said.

Clarence Environment Centre spokesperson, John Edwards, said that in response to Forests NSW’s claims that no suitable habitat existed in the area, he organised a visit to the area by two experienced ornithologists.

“Contrary to Forests NSW’s claims, both experts agreed that there are extensive areas of ideal habitat for the Rufous Scrub-bird and that it appeared that logging areas would have been good habitat prior to being trashed.

“Conservationists are dismayed that despite it being over a month since blatantly illegal logging of the habitat of a threatened species was reported to the new Environmental Protection Authority they have failed to undertake a proper investigation and refused to stop the logging.

“We have therefore appealed to the responsible Government Ministers to immediately stop the logging while an independent inquiry into this sordid affair is undertaken” Mr. Edwards said.