COMMUNITY groups including landowners, farmers, conservationists and nature enthusiasts have become ‘citizen scientists’ to collect data on biodiversity in environmentally sensitive areas of public forests in New South Wales in order to support their fight against local logging.
‘Friends of the Conglomerate State Forest’ spokeswoman, Ms Dee Wanis, became one such citizen scientist when she learned that the Forestry Corporation NSW (FCNSW) was planning to log the native forest adjacent to his property.
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“The Conglomerate State Forest is a complex system of forest types with high biodiversity, threatened species and habitat values that filter the headwaters of the iconic Sherwood Creek, west of Woolgoolga,” a said Ms. Wanis.
“Local citizens are fed up with Forestry Corporation’s industrial logging operations in our public forests.”
She is keen to point out that the recent Land and Environmental Court ruling fining FCNSW $285,000 for environmental damages is “a wake-up call” for the state government.
Ms Wanis said the current Liberal government must investigate the ability of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to effectively monitor state-subsidized logging operations in our native forests and plantations.
She said the fines showed an inherent disrespect for protocol and a disrespect for Forestry’s own operating code.
Another Conglomerate State Forest friend, Nikki Read, said she has been involved in investigations that she says revealed regulatory violations.
She said citizen scientists are needed because the EPA and DPI seem unable to track the opening of logging areas.
She said citizen scientists have repeatedly called on the state government to recognize the proposed Great Koala National Park to ensure the protection of the endangered koala.
“It is imperative that these last strongholds of native forest be preserved to pull koala populations back from the brink of extinction, mitigate climate change as carbon sinks and ensure the authenticity of Coffs Coast’s claim as the first New South Wales’ eco-friendly destination,” Ms Read said.
Ms Wanis and Ms Read are urging people to support a rally to end logging in native forests which will take place outside Parliament in Sydney on Thursday September 15 as the NSW Upper House debates a petition to put end to indigenous logging.
There will also be a street parade in Bellingen on September 17 to highlight the proposed logging near the Kalang Springs.
By Andrew VIVIAN