'HORRIFIED': Locals call to cease operation at headwaters

Kalang River forest logging protest: Kalang River forest logging protesters outside Forestry offices in Coffs harbour
Kalang River forest logging protest: Kalang River forest logging protesters outside Forestry offices in Coffs harbour

RESIDENTS have said they are "horrified" at upcoming forestry plans to log old-growth timber at the headwaters of the Kalang River near Bellingen.

Joined by Greens MP Cate Faehrmann, the Kalang River Forest Alliance staged a protest outside the Forestry Corporation NSW Coffs Harbour office this morning.

Councillor Sally Townley and Bellingen Mayor Dominic King also took part.

The president of the alliance, Catherine Jones, has lived on a property on the edge of the Kalang River for 34 years, and said a proposal to log the headwaters, which contains some old growth and rainforest, was first put on the table in 2017.

"This protest is about telling Forestry to cease all operations in the headwaters. They don't have a social licence and they haven't done enough communicating with locals and environment groups," Ms Jones said.

"The are concerns with erosion. It's very unstable soil so any disturbance in such fragile soil is going to be a nightmare.

"We've had numerous community meetings attended by over 100 people, and we've had 100 per cent support against logging the headwaters."


Greens MP Cate Faehrmann said she will be pushing for the Great Koala National Park proposal in Parliament, which would protect the area from being logged.

"I've had a look through the Kalang Valley headwaters and have seen the forest planned to be logged by Forestry Corporation any day now. There's lots of habitat trees and threatened species, it's an area too precious now to be logged," Ms Faehrmann said.

"It is completely unacceptable in 2019 to log old-growth forest. Old-growth forests were protected 20 years ago in law and for the government, and for Forestry to think they can open them up to logging now is insanity.

"These forests shouldn't be logged, they should be part of the Great Koala National Park."

According to Forestry Corporation, the State Forests around the Kalang River are part of a large network of regrowth forests that have been producing timber for more than a century.

"We are planning to undertake selective harvesting, which means we harvest trees primarily focusing on mature high-value products and also ensure the forest adequately regenerates for the future," a Forestry spokesperson said.

"This timber harvesting has been planned over several years with detailed ecological surveys, cultural heritage surveys and soil and water assessments undertaken as part of the planning process."

The spokesperson assured staff will be marking out areas that can and can't be harvested, and which trees must be retained as a seed source or for flora and fauna protection.