Logging has resumed in an environmentally sensitive area of Shallow Crossing State Forest, 18 months after the Currowan fire tore through the area south of Ulladulla.
- Logging of native forest south of Ulladulla has resumed 18 months after the Black Summer fires
- Residents are concerned regulations to guide forestry operations don’t take into account events like the Currowan bushfire
- A report commissioned by the NSW government to examine this issue has not been released
It has sparked outrage from residents who say the framework used to guide NSW Forestry on environmental impacts in these compartments is no longer adequate given the destruction caused by the fire.
Forestry Minister John Barilaro last year commissioned an independent report from the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to look at this issue and review the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOA) framework.
The report, while complete, has not been publicly released.
Independent MLC Justin Field said the report should be made public before any further logging operations occur.
“We put some degree of faith that this report could give us some advice on what could happen sustainably,” Mr Field said.
Taking an emotional toll
Residents have spent 18 months fighting for NSW Forestry to stop logging until the forest has recovered more from the impact of the 2019-20 fires.
Without the report, they felt they had no choice but to organise protest action.
Last week they confronted NSW Forestry at the compartment to declare they would not be backing down.
“We live out here for the forest, and the forest is a part of our home,” said Takesa Frank, who has lived in Brooman all her life.
“We’ve just been in a constant fight for the last 18 months since the fires, and we haven’t had time to just sit back and reflect on what has happened to us.”
Those concerns were echoed by Alan Dixon, the manager of Clyde River Berry Farm which operates in the Brooman State Forest.
“The ongoing forestry operations are a slap in the face after the black summer,” he said.
“We choose to live out here but there is an element of feeling like the custodian of this land as well, it is here for everyone to use.”
Additional safeguards in place
A spokesperson for Forestry Corporation said there were additional environmental safeguards in fire-affected logging areas.
They said the measures ensured the ongoing environmental protection and timber supply was balanced.
“We will set aside more than half of the compartment in exclusion zones that will not be harvested, as well as a minimum of 50 per cent of the local area landscape to assist in forest recovery.”
A spokesperson for Mr Barilaro, meanwhile, said the NRC’s report was being considered by the state government.
“The NRC’s advice on native forestry post bushfires is currently being considered by the NSW government and remains cabinet in confidence,” they said.
“The NSW government has not changed the strong regulatory arrangements for native forestry in state forests.
“Forestry Corporation’s responsibilities include not only protecting the environment but also ensuring a continuing supply of timber to sustain a critical regional engine industry.”
Forestry was issued with a stop-work order in July last year for breaching environmental regulations.
Residents have made numerous other reports to the EPA about further alleged breaches, however no further action has been taken by the environmental regulator.