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Plantation timber harvest opposed

The axe is to fall on Compartment 16 of Pine Creek State Forest with the start of the harvest but local environmental groups argue the timber plantation is crucial for koalas. Source: The Bellingen Shire Courier Sun

The campaign to cease the felling process has fallen on deaf ears and in a last ditch effort the Bellingen Environment Centre (BEC) has written to the director of Forestry Corporation and a number of NSW Government ministers to alter the clear felling operation at Mailman’s Track to selective logging.

A spokesperson for the BEC said “under condition 5.2 of the harvest plan this kind of habitat can be protected and logged selectively however, the way the condition is to be applied renders it meaningless.

“When considering the financial return it is estimated that 75% of the timber is low quality so these koalas of are of greater value from both a tourist dollar and a biodiversity perspective,” he said.

Forestry Corporation of NSW’s regional manager Craig Busby denied the harvest would adversely affect the koalas.

He insists all possible steps have been taken to minimise environmental damage.

“Compartment 16 of Pine Creek State Forest is a plantation that was established on previously cleared land in the late 1960s for timber production and sits between Bongil Bongil National Park and cleared farmland to the south,” Mr Busby said.

“This plantation is situated within a broad forested area and is managed for conservation, recreation and timber production.

“Within this plantation, we know that over time a variety of native trees have naturally germinated, so we have taken steps to identify and safeguard habitat within the plantation for native wildlife.

“Our experienced and qualified staff have identified areas to retain so that timber production is balanced with conservation and our activities complement the vast area of National Park to the north.”

Mr Busby also said that “the timber harvested from this forest will be an important boost for local industry, supplying local timber processors with hardwood for conversion into essential timber products ranging from power poles to timber pallets for transporting goods, creating a steady source of local work and revenue”.

“The forest products industry continues to support more than 4000 jobs in Northern NSW and more than 100 in Bellingen alone,” he said.