Invitation to inspect logging work

FORESTS NSW has invited North East Forest Alliance frontman Dailan Pugh to a joint inspection of Wedding Bells State Forest near Woolgoolga to discuss logging practices following Mr Pugh's biting criticism of its operations.

Mr Pugh yesterday called for an immediate halt to logging in the forest, rehabilitation of what he claimed were illegally-logged streams and rainforest, and an inquiry into Forests NSW.

He said a NEFA audit had shown numerous breaches of environmental laws designed to protect the endangered Oxleyan pygmy perch, plus logging of two endangered ecological communities and koala habitat.

The acting director of Native Forest Operations, Andy Stirling, said Mr Pugh's suggestions that Forests NSW was harvesting illegally and had ignored or otherwise breached harvesting regulations should be examined on the site in question.

“Forests NSW is operating in Wedding Bells State Forest according to the Integrated Forest Operations Approval for the area which sets out clear conditions on how we must undertake harvesting operations,” Mr Stirling said.

“These conditions are quite complicated and it seems that Mr Pugh might have misinterpreted a number of provisions that are applicable to threatened species, endangered ecological communities and rainforest areas.”

The harvest plan acknowledged the possibility of two types of endangered ecological community but Forests NSW said they had found no areas they considered met the definition.

“Forests NSW excludes harvesting from all rainforest whether mapped or not,” Mr Stirling said.

He said they had performed the required surveys for koalas, but as no evidence of koalas was found there were no triggers for preserving additional habitat but they would investigate the claims made by NEFA and welcomed the opportunity to discuss the issues on site.

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