Contributed from New South Wales
Local community group, the Concerned citizens of Bellingen, have launched a petition in defense of thousands of hectares of beautiful rich and diverse forest and three main rivers: Kalang, Bellinger and Never Never. These rivers meet the sea at Urunga.
Local residents rely on the quality of this water for their lifestyles and livelihoods, including: tourism, irrigation for local farms (cropping, dairy, livestock, oyster farms).
The forests are home to a rich and diverse range of flora and fauna including wildlife on the threatened species list such as: Koala, Quoll, Giant Barred Frog, Powerful Owl, Sooty Owl, Black Necked Stork (Jabiru), Glossy Black Cockatoo, Red-tailed Cockatoo, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Rose Crowned Fruit Dove and Superb Fruit Dove.
Tarkeeth Forest contains areas of significant indigenous culture of the Gumbaynggirr people.
But the Forestry Corporation has commenced a five-year operation, using extensive clear felling using massive machine harvesters. The remains will be burnt in windrows and there will be widespread spraying using a cocktail of herbicides.
The Tarkeeth Forest is technically registered as a ‘plantation.’ However, over the forty-eight years since planting took place. It now has a rich and diverse lower story of native trees that supports threatened wildlife.
The Concerned citizens of Bellingen feel that Forestry Corporation has betrayed the community consultation process, and has rejected all of the concerns and requests put forward. The group supports t sustainable selective harvesting to provide a permanent supply of quality timber to local mills and small businesses, to support and create local jobs. Forestry Corporation, they say, is not engaged in best practice and its conduct will bring about significant harm, if it continues.
They argue that it is not good enough for our community or environment and insist that there should greater scrutiny and the adoption of more ethical standards that protect communities and the environment.