North Coast Environment Council president Jim Morrison accused Forestry Corporation of New South Wales (Forest Corp) of endangering lives and disregarding ecology.
He said Forest Corp is using a 100-year-old habitat tree at Cherry Tree State Forest, west of Casino, to block the heritage-listed Cherry Tree Road.
The road provides flood-free access to residents of Old Lawrence Road near Mallanganee. Morrison said the region is being lashed by heavy rain and Forest Corp has cut off access to residents who may need to evacuate, or go to town for supplies or appointments.
“The normal route out of the valley, via Old Lawrence Road to the west, has a causeway which has been flooded at least three times so far this year,” Morrison said on March 2. “It’s the same to the east where the creek crossings regularly become impassable through to Busby’s Flat. The Cherry Tree Road follows a ridge through to the Bruxner Highway, with no dangerous water courses to cross.”
The road was blocked last November following extensive protests regarding the logging operation at Cherry Tree State Forest.
When an impacted resident contacted Forest Corp in December about the need to keep this flood-free route opened to local residents, she was told that it had blocked the road for “safety reasons” and would monitor the situation and remove the log if need be.
“I was given the same response by a Forest Corp spokesperson in December,” Morrison said. “Given that the causeway can go under after just a few hours of heavy rain, this response was pointless.”
Morrison said a car washed off the causeway during a flood in early February, and the occupant was lucky to escape.
“Someone could die. The fact that Forest Corp is using such a huge old tree to block a road highlights their callous disregard for the environment as well as community safety.
“This tree was doing a great job as home for wildlife and sequestering carbon. Its purpose now is to block a road. Yet, the logging operation has been suspended for the past month.”
Morrison called on the relevant ministers to “step in and demand that all old growth trees be left for habitat, and the road immediately reopened to allow access for local residents”.