Tantawangalo illegal logging claims denied; EPA to investigate

STALLED: Members of South East Forest Rescue (SEFR) prevented Forestry Corporation NSW logging in Tantawangalo State Forest on Tuesday.
STALLED: Members of South East Forest Rescue (SEFR) prevented Forestry Corporation NSW logging in Tantawangalo State Forest on Tuesday.

Claims of illegal state forest logging will be investigated by the EPA next week, but have been denied by Forestry Corporation of NSW.

A spokesperson for activists who attended Tantawangalo State Forest on Tuesday, November 22, said they were “99 per cent” sure logging was occurring within a rocky outcrop exclusion zone.

Forestry Corporation production supervisor for Eden Amba Addinsall said the state-owned enterprise was “confident” all rocky outcrops within the compartment were being protected, yet did concede the interpretation surrounding the Threatened Species Licence for such areas is an issue.

“We are working with the EPA to make it less subjective,” she said.

Ms Addinsall also confirmed the enterprise is currently facing court action over alleged illegal practices in Glenbog State Forest.

A spokesperson for the activists said NSW Police Rescue arrived at the forest on Tuesday evening to free logging machinery attached by three steel cables, and all, including a “tree sitter”, left shortly after.

President of the National Parks Association (NPA) of NSW Far South Coast branch David Gallan said the 2019 and 2021 expiry of two Regional Forest Agreements covering the south east offer an opportunity to provide long-term job security to forestry workers, conserve biodiversity, and “end the long running conflict between the forest industry and conservationists”.

“After nearly 40 years of forest conflict it’s high time we looked for a new solution,” he said.

Dr Bronte Somerset, spokesperson for conservation group Great Southern Forest, said greater economic potential could be found in using the region for carbon capture and sequestration.

“The NPA plan, that would reserve over 400,000ha of native forest for carbon storage instead of logging, is a paradigm shift in forest conservation in the south east of New South Wales,” she said.

“Conflict in our native forests seems intractable and completely entrenched, yet a viable solution is sitting right under the NSW Government’s nose – the natural capital asset of carbon.”