Gumbaynggirr demands logging ends in native forest

June 24, 2020
Logs from the Nambucca State Forest. Photo: Gumbaynngirr Conservation Group Nambucca

Activists, including some holding koalas, protested outside New South Wales Parliament House on June 17 demanding an immediate halt to the logging of NSW native forests.

The Forestry Corporation of NSW started logging in the unburnt southern section of Nambucca State Forest in April. It is also logging burnt koala habitat in the Bungawalbin, Doubleduke and Myrtle State Forests on the Richmond River lowlands, in addition to the Styx River and Lower Bucca State Forests. There are plans to log most of the Kalang Headwaters State Forest this year.

The action was organised to amplify a petition, signed by 25,000 people, calling on NSW Forestry to end logging in the Nambucca forests.

The Gumbaynggirr people, custodians of the Nambucca State Forest, said that logging is destroying their cultural sites. “NSW Forestry has been given the permission to log 140,000 hectares of coastal forests from Taree to Grafton, which it refers to as ‘intensive harvesting zones’. If we don’t act now, our deeply significant cultural heritage will be desecrated, our beautiful old growth trees will be logged, rare flora will become extinct and our koalas and endangered species will literally have nowhere else to go.”

Gumbaynggirr spokesperson Sandy Greenwood said: “Never before have we had Gumbaynggirr custodians, local community and environment groups uniting together like this: this is real reconciliation.”

Some of the species under threat include the sooty owl, masked owl, powerful owl, grey-headed flying fox, koala, little bent-wing bat and yellow-bellied glider. Most of the endangered forests support high quality koala habitat and glossy black cockatoo feed trees.

On the same day, Greenwood lodged her case against the Forestry Corporation NSW in the Land and Environment Court. She is the first Indigenous woman to bring a case against it, and the first time in a decade that it has been taken to court.

She said that her case centred on challenging NSW Forestry’s privative clause, which prevents any individual or organisation taking it to court. “This is a dictatorial law which must be abolished. We have a very strong case as native title holders and, if we win, it will be landmark litigation. Sovereignty was never ceded.”

The protest action was organised by Water for Rivers, North East Forest Alliance, Nature Conservation Council, Nambucca Forest Campaign group, the Sydney Knitting Nannas and Friends, Extinction Rebellion and Gumbaynggirr representatives.

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