A dedicated team of concerned Bellingen Shire citizens are now camped along Horseshoe Rd at its intersection with Middle Camp Rd, just over 20km from the Waterfall Way turn off. “Significant community opposition to the intended industrial logging of the Kalang Headwaters has led to this necessary action,” says local ecologist Mark Graham.
“I refer to our camp as the ‘Biodiversity Embassy’. We have created an interface between the forest and the community. We gather the evidence, documenting the harm being done and disseminate this evidence to the broader community. We speak for the trees.”
(Picture of the Kalang Headwaters courtesy of the Kalang River Forest Alliance)
Mark, why was this tent embassy necessary?
Threatened, ancient and sensitive species of flora and fauna have now definitively been identified throughout the proposed forestry areas of the Kalang Headwaters. Industrial logging techniques used by the Forestry Corporation today will result in the removal of most forest cover in the harvest areas. This will sever the wildlife corridors that support globally significant conservation values and will mean that a weedy mess remains. The habitat values of the existing high conservation value forests will be degraded, resulting in effective extinction of threatened species from this region. Our rivers will be polluted and the carbon stored there mobilised.
Surely the Forestry Corporation has performed assessments of the region. If threatened and sensitive species have been identified, how can the Corporation justify their proposed clear-fell logging?
Four to five years ago the Forestry Corporation performed cultural heritage and ecological assessments of the region, which were grossly inadequate and unacceptable. A very limited amount of time was spent to assess this expanse of forest and to sign-off on a host of technical assessments. We refute their findings.
They found evidence of only one koala feed tree in the region. However recent surveys of the region have identified healthy Koala colonies, Long-nosed Potoroos, Spotted-tailed Quolls and Rufous Scrub-birds and Slender Marsdenias in the wild. Only meters from our camp we have seen koala scats.
Surely this evidence alone should shut down their operations until more in-depth assessments can be made?
Exactly. However, the Forestry Corporation often operate in very remote areas without scrutiny. Even in cases where their conduct has been demonstrated to be illegal, a ‘warning’ issued by the state government regulatory agencies will be the most common consequence.
It is important to note that the Forestry Corporation have already spent $100,000’s on road infrastructure to gain access to this unique area of forest. They mean business. But so do we.
We have documented evidence of the significant harm that has already been inflicted through the road building. With no sediment control in place, 150 meters of sediment have already poured down the steep slopes from the new road into the Kalang River headwaters. If and when rain appears, this sediment will wash down into the Kalang and Bellinger River systems, affecting the health of the sensitive river ecosystems.
What does the camp on the Horseshoe Road hope to achieve?
Quite simply, we need to stop the logging of these globally significant forests. People power and a grassroots effort is our best hope to preserve these valuable forests and threatened species.
The Kalang community and a significant proportion of the broader community is aware of the values of the Kalang and the possible devastation that will result from the intended industrial logging operations planned. There isn’t a social license for this.
Our aim is for an ongoing presence of concerned residents to block the access of the Forestry Corporation. We have informed the Forestry Corp directly of their documented illegal practices. We will not allow any harvesting or heavy machinery to enter our forests. A permanent human presence will be ensured at the camp.
Is this a peaceful protest?
Yes. We have a code of conduct covering non-violent, direct-action principles, waste reduction and protecting the forest. Our interactions with Forestry Corp will always be respectful and non-violent.
Our social and environmental responsibility is to ensure the appropriate management of the camp- we don’t want to impact the forests.
However our overriding commitment is to protect these precious assets. These are our forests. We don’t support any further impact.
As road infrastructure has already been implemented, do you think you will have success in stopping the logging of the Kalang Headwaters?
We have to. These forest assets underpin our community, our agriculture and our economy.
We are trying to view the road infrastructure in a positive light- the Forestry Corp have invested in the future of and access to the Great Koala National Park (GKNP). The GKNP is a social, environmental and economic initiative that could provide a myriad of benefits to our community, environment and community. An alternative to logging that will actually benefit this region.
For more information about the camp CLICK
For the facts on logging of the Kalang Headwaters CLICK