NEFA: Forest News – March

New South Wales

Forest protectors walked into closed forests in Yarratt SF, and Doubleduke SF, claiming they have been closed to the public by the Forestry Corporation to hide the destruction that is occurring at taxpayer expense. Brooman State Forest Conservation Group and Friends of the Forest (Mogo), Knitting Nannas in the M.U.D (Milton Ulladulla District) and Manyana Matters Environmental Association had a solidarity action in Bateman’s Bay. There was a good turnout at all locations, with 70 protestors at Doubleduke met by 7 police cars.

Sean O’Shanessy locked on to the front gate, with a tree-sit attached, to give the Forestry Corporation a taste of their own medicine by shutting access to their headquarters in Pennant Hills. Sean was cut off and let go, the person in the tree-sit came down after their line to the gate was cut, and let go. It got good coverage on Channel 7 in Sydney, but no other mainstream media.

Save Bulga Forest dropped a giant fluoro and red banner Save Native Forest across the cliff face of the iconic Ellenborough Falls as a reminder that the water flowing over the waterfall comes from the Bulga forest and that with each truck full of logs taken from the forest the water reservoir that the forests provide, diminishes. NBN had a good story on it. After 2 months of continuous occupation, Lola’s tree-sit in Bulga State Forest was dismantled by the Forestry Corporation when she had to descend to attend a medical appointment. The Daily Telegraph has an article about the court appearances of those arrested at Bulga, the burning Blinky Bill and a motion by Greens councillor Lauren Edwards to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to lobby authorities to halt logging in Bulga.

The News of the Area story about formation of an Orara East action group (covered last week) is online.

There are two new videos doing the rounds, please watch them and get the message out. David Bradbury has prepared a 34m video focussed on the Bulga action, though wide-ranging, “Gondwana Going, Going…Gone?”

Friendly Jordies has prepared the 30m “Valley of Death” based on a visit to Wild Cattle Creek with Mark Graham – more serious than his last on Wedding Bells – while released on March 15 it had 490,000 views when I looked on March 17.

Deanna “Violet” Coco was last year handed a 15-month sentence with a non-parole period of eight months for blocking a lane of the Cahill Expressway for 30 minutes, though on appeal the jail sentence was overturned and she was placed on a 12-month conditional release order, despite the police lying and the prosecution describing her as a “danger to the community”.

We [NEFA] thought we had killed it with the change to Federal legislation to stop wood from native forests being eligible for tradeable Large-scale Generation Certificates, but the proposed restart of the Redbank Power Station using 850,000 tonnes of forests to generate electricity has been resurrected as a State Significant Development. Renew Economy has a good background article.

The Sydney Morning Herald has an in-depth article about the coalition’s conservation record, starting with Kean’s deal with the Nationals over Koalas to get their support for renewable energy, declining Koala populations, the National’s act to protect feral horses and their rising numbers, the threefold increase in land clearing, the recent increases in reserves still leaving NSW the second worse in Australia (a quarter of Tasmania’s), which many attribute  ‘to horse-trading between Liberals and Nationals’.

Sue Higginson says that being involved in protests in the 1990s shaped the direction of her life, and wants the draconian anti-protest laws repealed for non-violent protestors to give others the chances in life she had.

NSW election

Polls continue to give Labor the lead, though the swings needed for Labor to gain seats indicate its likely to be a close election, with a hung lower house giving minor parties and independents the balance of power, and a power split between left and right parties in the upper house.

Juice Media have a fun brief overview (including forests), giving all the reasons why you should vote for the coalition

The ABC has a podcast Matters of State on regional issues that mentions the Koala wars and Leslie Williams defection and Geof Provest’s threat to cross the floor, and the brumby and land use issues, talks about the split between coastal and inland Nationals.

The Bob Brown Foundation hosted a rally in Manly to protest the incessant logging and mindless destruction of koala forest habitat under the LNP government over the past twelve years, with speeches by Susie Russell and Sean O’Shannessey, including a march through Manly to James Griffin’s office – though I couldn’t find any mainstream media coverage.

The NSW Greens have outlined seven demands it will make if it ends up holding the balance of power in the NSW parliament after the March 25 state election, including repeal the anti-protest laws and end logging of public native forests.

The Guardian has an article about the crucial environmental issues ahead of the next Government, highlighting, that neither of the major parties are intending to do anything about rampant landclearing (which they are unlikely to be able to continue to ignore), the plight of Koalas (Labor with a Great Koala NP and the coalition $195 million), the failed biodiversity offsets scheme (which Labor says if will fix and the coalition reform), logging of public native forests (which the coalition is proud of and Labor silent on), and the burgeoning emissions from new coal mines (which both support).

News of the Area has Coffs Harbour candidates responses to ‘The environment/Great Koala National Park’, with the ALP’s Mr Judge saying ‘It can be the single greatest environmental and economic boost for Coffs in decades’, the Nationals Mr Singh extolling the government propaganda including that logging has no impacts on Koalas, Independent Dr Townley supporting phasing out logging of native forests, in a mixed response The Greens Mr Nott says the Greens support the GKNP while saying he supports sustainable logging but ‘cannot support logging public forests at an economic loss’ and ‘builders struggle to find local timbers’, with candidates Ms Ellison and Ms Cully also supporting the GKNP.  

The Echo put a number of questions to candidates for the seat of Ballina, including (1) should we stop logging of native forests, and (2) should Forestry be held accountable for logging Koala habitat, The Greens simply answered yes and ‘They should be forced to stop’, the Nationals no and ‘I support penalties commensurate with the law being broken’, Labor was more equivocal, recognising forests value for carbon, stating they are ‘committed to creating a Great Koala National Park around Coffs Harbour and at the same time ensure there are no job losses’, supporting a transition to plantations, tourism facilities in new reserves, involvement of all stakeholders in reaching decisions about forest management, and ‘Labor will act to protect Koalas and Koala habitat’(apparently by increasing fines).

The Shooters Fishers and Farmers want to change zoning laws and give farmers freedom to do what they want.


The Albanese Labor Government is seeking feedback on the principles that will guide which areas could be formally recognised for their contribution to achieving the 30% by 2030 goal, saying they already have 22% protected (mostly desert) but still need to protect an additional 60 million hectares which they intend making up using “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OECMs) – though there is a worry that they could include multiple-use areas (productive landscapes), time to demand they don’t include areas used for logging, that targets be met on a regional basis (with a forest bias as climatic refugia) and that they now protect public native forests. To have your say on OECMs, visit: 

Cosmos has an article about the shambles that Victoria’s phase-out of logging public native forests has become, with VicForests losing $54.2 million last year, unable to meet commitments to customers, blaming the multitude of court cases forcing them to protect habitat of threatened species, accusations of illegal logging, closure of the Maryvale paper plant, and a 2020 assessment that found stopping logging immediately would save taxpayers $192 million.

In south-west Australia, Alcoa has long-term approval to clear jarrah forest for bauxite mining, though all they need to do to claim it is rehabilitated is do some landscaping and some seeding, leaving large areas in a parlous state, with 27,860 hectares of jarrah forest cleared none has rehabilitation completed.


Wild populations of Orange-bellied Parrots are being sustained by captive breeding and release holding extinction at bay as the natural birth rate is too low to compensate for the high death rates of juveniles, though until the threats to their survival in the wild are addressed their population can only survive by regular releases.

Australian Ethical says it has sold its $11m in shareholdings in Lendlease after it failed to provide “critical information” about the width of planned koala corridors at stage two of its Gilead housing development, claiming it is one of the first funds managers in Australia to divest from a company because of concern for an endangered species.

The Growling Grass Frog has not been recorded at Winton Wetlands, in northern Victoria, for more than 50 years, so 30 frogs captured in the wild are being returned to the now rehabilitated wetland, with Chytrid fungus the biggest threat.

Six kangaroos were mowed down and left to die by hoons at Long Beach in Batemans Bay, coming after 14 ‘roos were killed in October, 2021 in the same area, with one joey surviving the incident. 

Researchers have analysed the whiskers of Tasmanian Devils to determine what they eat, finding that in farmland they mostly fed on Tasmanian Pademelon roadkill (which exposes them to becoming roadkill), and in logged forests they also had relatively restricted diets, while in oldgrowth rainforest they had varied diets. Their concentration onto large carcasses in disturbed environments increases the risk of spreading devil facial tumour disease, that has wiped out 68% of their population.

Researchers recommend that learning to live with Dingoes, through guardian animals, deterrents, predator proof paddocks etc, can have benefits for graziers by reducing the competition for pasture from wild herbivores such as kangaroos and goats, as well as killing or scaring off foxes and feral cats – to my mind, the sooner we return dingoes to control ferals the better.

Its horrific, once again millions of dead Bony Bream carpet the surface of the Darling River at Menindee, with an increasing number of golden perch and even a few Murray cod, poor water quality is a likely cause again, possibly deoxygenated flood waters from floodplains.

A new plastic-induced fibrosis in seabirds has been termed plasticosis, which results in scarred digestive tracts affecting their ability to digest food and making them more vulnerable to infection and parasites.

Lord Howe Island’s parks have been closed to visitors after an outbreak of the fungus Myrtle Rust, that attacks plants of the myrtaceae family, was found to have spread across most of the park preserve, with the hope that they may be able to eradicate it, like they did in 2016.

Out of roughly 21,000 native Australian vascular plant species 3,715 (or 18%) do not have a single field photograph in major databases, the less charismatic small herbs, plants with tiny or dull flowers, or groups such as grasses or sedges tend to miss out, particularly in remote areas. Many could go extinct without any record of what they looked like alive.

The Deteriorating Problem

An assessment of satellite data found extreme dry and wet events have been increasing since 2002, but the most intense events have been occurring more frequently since 2015 with increased temperatures, proving the increase in extremes due to climate heating.

For the Mediterranean Basin, South and Central Asia, East Africa and the west coasts of North and Central America, the land might be reaching a tipping point in terms of its ability to host significantly forested land and absorb significant amounts of carbon, with extensive forests at risk of turning into scrubland and other ecosystems that don’t act as carbon sinks, causing a “spiraling” effect.

A global rainforest study has found deforestation and forests lost or damaged due to human and environmental change, such as fire and logging, are fast outstripping current rates of forest regrowth, though regrowth can still sequester significant carbon volumes.

Turning it Around

Ian Dunlop argues that we are in a desperate race to avoid locking in a pathway to human extinction due to climate heating, which dwarfs threats from China, Russia or the US, arguing for brutal honesty on the threats, support for the Greens policy of no new fossil fuels, and unprecedented global co-operation.

Dailan Pugh

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