Yurangalo Inc

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Latest media releases:

Regional Manager Says Logging Unsustainable - 16.5.2010
Powerful Owls Bear Witness to Yurammie Forest Event - 24.4.2010
Biodiversity Bank - Western Yurammie – Know the Forest, Invest in the Future - 18.4.2010
Regional Forester Misrepresents Dismissive About Community Concerns - 9.3.10
Community Rallies in Support of Yurammie Special Prescription Zone - 8.3.10
Regional Forester Contradicts Forests Minister - 19.2.10
Local Iconic Forest at Risk - 14.2.10


Regional Manager Says Logging Unsustainable - 16th May 2010

More than 130 people gathered in Wyndham on Tuesday 11th May to hear Forests NSW (FNSW) personnel explain their organisation’s position on the contentious proposed logging in the Yurammie Special Prescription Zone. This was followed by questions from the floor.

Many questions were asked about the issue of water, something the community has expressed serious concerns about since before the logging was first mooted. Other issues raised included the sustainability of logging practices, old growth forest, the impact on local tourism businesses and the possible effects of climate change.

During question time, when asked about sustainable logging, FNSW Regional Manager Ian Barnes admitted that the planned logging activity in Western Yurammie doesn’t have to be sustainable in itself because it occurs within a broader landscape context that includes national parks. ‘What this means is that no logging site needs to be sustainable. Every successive logging cycle will further degrade the forest for future generations. This contradicts every bit of PR written by FNSW and the Government. This is such a travesty when Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management (ESFM) is supposedly a cornerstone of the Regional Forest Agreement and FNSW practice. They use it as a symbol of everything they do, yet this comment exposes ESFM as an illusion,’ commented Bob Harris, president of Yurangalo Inc.

The evening had begun with a presentation from Forests NSW (FNSW) about the work they had undertaken to date in preparing a draft harvest plan.  This plan is based on a regime where there would be the removal of 50% of the canopy, rather than the usual average 80% that occurs in other harvested areas.

This raised concerns about how ‘special’ this 50% canopy reduction proposal really is. Bob Harris continued, ‘In any area that is highly visible anywhere, FNSW has already decided to apply a 50% canopy reduction prescription. So, all this offer really gives us is an extra 30% of canopy in areas that can’t be seen. Most of this low-lying, fertile area has actually been mapped by FNSW as high quality habitat, something the fauna doesn’t need to lose. Whilst this proposal might seem to be a step in the right direction, it isn’t enough for an area that was deemed so special in the RFA that it was identified as a ‘Special’ Prescription Zone’, Bob said. ‘Further, FNSW has indicated in a reply to Yurangalo Inc, that they will be able to log as hard as they can in areas that can’t be seen. In other words, business as usual in some places, as the 50% is only an average.’

FNSW Nick Roberts, who was present at the meeting, said that in his time as CEO, he had received more correspondence about the Yurammie Special Prescription Zone than any other issue; consequently, he wanted to come and see the forest for himself.

‘Despite reassurances from FNSW, the majority of people attending the meeting still hold grave concerns for the security of their forested catchment, and remain opposed to the logging proposal,’ Wyndham resident Melinda Downs said.

Regardless of a request from the community members present, Mr Barnes said that he could not guarantee another public meeting, but that people could make submissions to FNSW about issues of concern. However, what was not mentioned was that a deadline of May 21st, just 10 days after the meeting date, applied. This date was only mentioned by Mr Barnes in an interview with ABC Local Radio on the morning after the meeting.

‘Once again, the community has been disenfranchised by FNSW. If they wanted genuine input from the community, then that deadline should have been clearly stated at the beginning of the meeting,’ Bob noted. ‘In anyone’s terms, less than 2 weeks to respond to information that has been presented by government is totally unsatisfactory.’


Powerful Owls Bear Witness to Yurammie Forest Event - 24.4.2010

More than 100 people gathered on a drizzly long weekend Saturday morning to show their support for the permanent protection of Western Yurammie.

The focus of the gathering was the rich biodiversity of the forest, also known as the Yurammie Special Prescription Zone (YSPZ), which forms a significant part of Wyndham's water catchment.
Those attending walked into the mature, multi-aged forest, before listening to nocturnal calls of birds and mammals that reside in Western Yurammie, some of which are listed as threatened. Rachelle Blick, one of the event organisers said, "Many people were able to identify calls that in the past had been a mystery to them".

An information booth had the Wyndham Water Users' petition that seeks permanent protection of Western Yurammie. The village of Wyndham is one of only 19 towns in NSW to manage its own independent water scheme. Western Yurammie is a significant part of Myrtle Creek's water catchment, which the village relies on especially during time of low flow and drought.
There was a photo gallery, talks on searching for animal scats to identify their presence, nocturnal animals and their use of the forest. powerful owls

A feature of the day was a rainforest walk led by Bob Harris. The first group was astounded by the presence of two Powerful Owsl sitting high in a mature Lilli Pilli in the rainforest. Amazingly, the owls chose to remain and so successive groups were able to appreciate the presence of this listed threatened species. Forests NSW have already conducted fauna surveys in Western Yurammie and found no evidence of Powerful Owls, despite previous records. "This clearly shows the utter inadequacy of the these surveys undertaken by FNSW", said Bob Harris.

In the middle of the day the crowd gathered to hear a short speech by Deb Harris, one of the event organisers. She said that Western Yurammie is one of the 'disputed territories' in the Eden region, a high conservation forest that was not protected by the Regional Forest Agreement. She further emphasized that the community did not regard this forest as 'waste wood' to go for woodchips.

After detailing the forest's rich and abundant biodiversity including old growth mature and multi-aged forests, rainforest, swamps and diverse flora and fauna, Ms Harris said "Our society stresses financial security and our message today is that protecting high conservation value forests like Western Yurammie is an investment for our future. Thus we have created the Biodiversity Bank, which is the focal point for today's event".  The Biodiversity Bank consisted of a symbol representing Western Yurammie's biodiversity, surrounded by 'shares' signed with messages from those present.
"It was wonderful to see so many people keen to come out into the forest and show their support for Western Yurammie, said Tricia Thompson, who organised the artwork for the Biodiversity Bank.

Ms Harris concluded "We need to keep on sending a clear message to the politicians and industry that Western Yurammie, permanently protected, is an investment in Wyndham's economic future. It's a Biodiversity Bank that will help to secure a better future for us all.


Biodiversity Bank - Western Yurammie – Know the Forest, Invest in the Future - 18.4.2010

Once again the groups supporting the permanent protection of Western Yurammie are asking the community to come out in support of this forest. This forest is also known as the Yurammie Special Prescription Zone and Yurammie State Forest Compartments 963-967. Currently it is under threat of logging by Forests NSW.

‘On Saturday April 24 from 11am there will be the opportunity for community members and visitors to discover and understand why the community so values this forest as a biodiversity bank,’ said Deb Harris, one of the organisers.

‘The focus of this event will be on the values of this forest. They include a rich and abundant biodiversity including old growth mature and multi-aged forest, rainforest, swamps, threatened and other species. All these lead to water as a sustaining resource and opportunities for tourism which lead to an understanding of the role that forests, suitably protected, play in providing a sustainable future for the local community,’ Ms Harris continued.

People are invited to come to the intersection of the Mt Darragh Rd and the Kingfisher Rd and park their cars to walk into this forest. There will be activities including information stalls, a petition, a photo gallery, a rainforest walk and forest information talks that reflect the many values of this forest.

‘At 12pm there will be the opportunity to be part of a photo opportunity with the Biodiversity Artwork that reflects the community’s concern for this forest. Our intention is to send a clear message to the NSW Government regarding the necessity of permanently protecting this local asset and part of Wyndham’s catchment.’

‘Bring water, food and gear for being in the forest. Invest in our future by being present at this event. Demonstrate that you have shares in our future by signing a ‘share’ that is part of the biodiversity artwork,’ Ms Harris concluded.


Regional Forester Misrepresents Dismissive About Community Concerns - 9.3.2010
On ABC Radio on 8.3.10 Ian Barnes from Forests NSW Batemans Bay stated that only 3% of the Wyndham water catchment would be logged so there was no problem. He went on to say that concerns regarding erosion, siltation and sedimentation were not warranted because previous events of such degradation were limited and known by the licensing authorities.

All of this would suggest that the Wyndham community has nothing to fear from having their catchment logged. Forests NSW has provided statements that should reassure the community.
However, there may be another perspective. ‘Mr Barnes has failed to mention that, should Forests NSW plans go ahead, they intend to log not only 3% of the Wyndham water catchment in the near future in Compartments 963 and 964, but they also intend to log a similar area in Compartment 965 also in this year.. Now we’re up to a really significant area of the catchment, especially in low flow conditions. That doesn’t represent the whole story either as once they have cut out the multi-aged forest they’ll be back into the regrowth.’

‘I’m surprised that Mr Barnes seems to think that erosion control is the only issue regarding water supply. He fails to mention the decreased absorption of water by the soil because it’s more compacted due to being driven over by logging machinery. This means that the subsequent slow, sustained release to the catchment is diminished because the water has already run off the harder surface. Mr Barnes also failed to mention that regrowth forest uses much more water in its earlier stages than the older forest does.’

‘Forests NSW have already logged the catchment of the Wyndham community and this has galvanised community action against further logging. This was demonstrated by the more than 400 people that attended the Community Call to Action in Wyndham on Sunday 7th Of March.’   
‘It’s a shame that Forests NSW is so dismissive of community concerns and tries to fob us off with half truths,’ said Ms Harris.

Community Rallies in Support of Yurammie Special Prescription Zone - 8.3.2010
Despite the threat of rain, on Sunday March 7, over 400 people gathered in the small south east village of Wyndham to answer a ‘Community Call to Action.’ This short, family friendly event was organised by the Myrtle Creek Catchment Protection Association, the Wyndham Water Users (WWU) and Yurangalo Inc, all local community groups seriously concerned by the threat of logging in the Yurammie Special Prescription Zone (YSPZ).
The rally drew a wide variety of people, from grandmothers to preschoolers, complete with banners to send a clear statement to the NSW and Federal Governments about how strongly the community supports the permanent protection of the YSPZ. The theme for the day was ‘We say no way.’
The crowd, gathered on the Sportsground and listened to brief speeches from representatives of the local community. This was followed by two photos. The first had the whole crowd closely gathered delivering their ‘No Way’ message to government. The second had everyone present forming the word ‘NO!’ to represent their commitment to seeing this forest appropriately protected. There were stalls, representing the organising community groups, providing a petition, information for lobbying and collecting contact details for future events should they be necessary.
The rain stayed away long enough for everyone to be able to show their intention to act because of their understanding of the importance of this issue locally. The speeches provided those present with up to date information. The first, by Bob Harris, outlined the values for which the local community considers theYSPZ to be a very special asset. Mr Harris spoke about the significance of the soil, the Lilly Pilly and Sassafras rainforested gullies, the multi-age and mature forest with its four layer structure and habitat for threatened species including Koalas (and those more taken for granted) and the regrowth that is struggling to recover and overall takes 150 years to provide hollows for those species so threatened at present like the owls and gliders. He challenged the Prime Minister and the Premier, ‘in this year of biodiversity, how will you protect the values of this forest that our community holds so dear?’
Sue Gibson, president of the WWU, focussed on the issue of water and outlined the particular concern that the WWU have regarding this forest’s significance for the village’s water supply. ‘The village of Wyndham has run an independent water system for some years now providing water to the residents of the village and the surrounding district when necessary,’ she observed. Ms Gibson considered the vital role that the YSPZ has in providing water and concluded her speech with the observation that this imminent threat of logging such an important local resource must be about money and that ‘you can’t drink money.’
Deb Harris concluded by presenting the history of community action that has sought permanent protection for the YSPZ. ‘The YSPZ is 5 forestry compartments on the western edge of Yurammie State Forest and as a result of strident community pressure during the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) was designated the YSPZ,’ Ms Harris explained. ‘Despite acting in good faith over the years and commitments from relevant ministers, we have, as yet, no acknowledgement of, let alone commitment to protect, the values for which the community fought for this forest in the RFA. Forests NSW seem to be very eager to go into this forest without undertaking a genuine consultation process that would take considerable time. It’s only 10 years into a 20 year agreement and it looks very much like they’re running out of sawlogs. This would mean that they got the wood supply estimates very wrong in the RFA,’ she observed.
‘What’s even more disturbing is that Kevin Petty from Forests NSW has stated that, should they log in the YSPZ, only 20% would be sawlogs, 80% would be woodchips which is supposedly waste wood. It’s not waste to us. Such statistics are an outrage to those who know the value of this and other forests currently being targeted in the Eden Region. Not all sensitive forested areas were protected in the RFA. If an SPZ designation will not protect the core values of the YSPZ, then the NSW Government needs to provide land tenure that will,’ Ms Harris concluded.


Regional Forester Contradicts Forests Minister - 19.2.10

In his statements on ABC radio on 17th February Forests NSW Regional Manager Ian Barnes acknowledged the creation of the Yurammie Special Prescription Zone (YSPZ). However, according to the correspondence received by Yurangalo Inc from Forests Minister Ian MacDonald, Mr Barnes was incorrect in his assertions that the YSPZ was created only for visual or aesthetic reasons.

Minister MacDonald, in a letter dated 22nd October 2009 to local MP Andrew Constance, (as a result of representations he made on behalf of Yurangalo Inc) stated that the creation of the YSPZ ‘recognises that the area requires additional management prescriptions for environmental values, including water quality and threatened flora and fauna.’

Spokesperson for local community conservation group Yurangalo Inc, Ms Deb Harris said ‘This clearly states that the values the YSPZ was designed to protect are different to Mr Barnes’ assertions. Minister MacDonald’s reply indicates that prescriptions will be applied in addition to the requirements of the Integrated Forestry Operations Agreement.’

‘In our correspondence last week we had already told Forests NSW Batemans Bay that agreement is necessary over this issue. Mr Barnes needs to act appropriately.’

The Yurammie Special Prescription Zone (YSPZ) is 5 compartments on the western edge of Yurammie State Forest. Yurangalo Inc and other members of the wider Wyndham community have sought its protection since the early 90’s.


Local Iconic Forest at Risk - 14.2.10

Residents of Wyndham and the surrounding district were dismayed to find last week that the protection they thought they had secured for a significant part of the Yurammie State Forest (known locally as Western Yurammie) may be in jeopardy.
As a result of considerable community pressure at the time when the Regional Forest Agreement was being signed in 1998, 5 compartments on the western edge of Yurammie State Forest (Compartments 963-967) were designated a Special Prescription Zone (SPZ).
Yurangalo Inc, a community conservation group has continued to campaign to have this forest pe rmanently protected because of its watershed importance, tourist appeal, old growth and multi age forest, biodiversity, and threatened species. The NSW Government has received two community petitions and thousands of letters and postcards demonstrating local determination to protect this area.
‘Yurangalo Inc found out by chance, late last year, that Forests NSW had included 3 Yurammie SPZ compartments in their Logging Schedule for early 2010,’ spokesperson for Yurangalo Inc Deb Harris stated.
‘We contacted Forests NSW in Sept 2009 raising issues with them regarding the ways in which this forest would be treated. We received an acknowledgement one month later. We’d heard nothing since then until last week when we received an email message from the Planning Operations Manager at Batemans Bay, which we believe misrepresented our communications with Forests NSW, questioned whether or not the Yurammie Special Prescription Zone actually existed, denied the possibility of community Koala surveys in these forests and indicated that Forests NSW would tell the community what it was going to do rather than engage in the required consultations to design Special Prescriptions.
‘This is completely unacceptable and disregards years of community action to protect this forest,’ Ms Harris said. ‘Forests Minister Ian Macdonald wrote in October 2009 that the Yurammie SPZ has ‘important catchment and habitat values’ and ‘requires additional management prescriptions for environmental values, including water quality and threatened flora and fauna.’’
Yurangalo Inc has approached Forests NSW CEO Nick Roberts, Federal MP Mike Kelly and relevant State Ministers to prevail on Forests NSW Batemans Bay to act in an appropriate manner regarding the Yurammie SPZ.