NSW Court Suspends Newry Forest Harvesting Amid Gumbaynggir Concerns

Justice Moore has extended the cessation for 11 days before a three-day hearing will begin on November 14.

Mon 28 Aug 23


The NSW Land and Environment Court has temporarily halted harvesting in a State Forest that could form part of the proposed Great Koala National Park.

Justice Moore reached the decision yesterday after Gumbaynggirr Elders took action to court on Wednesday.

Gumbaynggirr elders Michael ‘Micklo’ Jarrett and Herbert “Bud” Marshall were cited as leading applicants and called for “harvest operations to cease in the Newry Forest due to the cultural significance of the forests.”

“The totems of the Gumbaynggirr people are in danger — like the koala, like the greater glider,” Gambaynggir elder Michael ‘Micklo’ Jarrett told ABC on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Alan Oshlack, an agent acting on behalf of Mr Jarrett, went before the Land and Environment court with a notice of motion to “permanently stop harvesting in the state forest.”

Gumbaynggirr elders Michael Jarrett (centre) and Herbert Marshall protesting against logging in Newry State Forest. (Photo Credit: Supplied by Bellingen Activist Network)

The court ordered that Mr Marshall and Mr Jarrett be referred for pro bono legal assistance and ordered the applicants to submit evidence ahead of the matter returning to court for yesterday’s hearing.

In response, Forestry Corporation NSW signed a Voluntary Temporary Undertaking to suspend harvesting operations until 4 p.m. yesterday.

A Forestry Corporation spokesperson said operations in Newry State Forest had been “conducted in line with the strict conditions regulating native forestry in NSW, which have been developed with the input of expert scientific panels to protect and maintain wildlife habitat, forest flora, water quality and biodiversity across the landscape”.

“Our planning process for all operations includes consultation with the Aboriginal community and field surveys to identify and protect Aboriginal cultural heritage,” the spokesperson said.

The action relates to harvested coups within the Newry State Forests. (Photo Credit: Supplied by Animal Justice Party Twitter)

Justice Moore told the court that the suspension on harvesting would be extended for a further 11 days, with the traditional owners and NSW Forestry Corporation scheduled to meet in court again on September 5 to finalise evidence and address timetabling matters.

Justice Moore said a three-day hearing will begin on November 14.

Forestry Corporation confirmed the undertaking had been extended unopposed but declined to comment further as the matter was still before the court.

Justice Moore said a site inspection of Newry State Forest was critical and stressed that he expected preparations for a visit to be made by both parties before the next court date.

“If necessary, I will stop playing Mr Nice Guy and may impose a timetable to propose the applicants to inspect the forest,” he said.

The action follows a series of demonstrations by protesters pushing for an end to native forestry – coinciding with the ALP National Conference in Brisbane last week.

These protests included harvested areas within areas connected to the proposed Great Koala National Park. 

Protesters are concerned that current regional forest agreements do not provide biodiversity and ecological protections within areas harvested.

RFAs are federal-state deals that have effectively enjoyed an exemption from national environment laws on the basis that reserves and forest practice requirements are sufficient.

In effect, they are long-term plans for the sustainable management and conservation of Australia’s native forests in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and WA.

In May, Wood Central contributor Gordon Wilson looked at protected forest areas within the proposed National Park.

He found that “mapping reveals that this ‘unavailable land’ provides corridors of native forest across state forests that connect to national parks – the stated aim of the current Minister for the Environment for the Koala Park.”

Next week, the North East NSW Regional Forestry Hub – which the Australian Government funds – will facilitate a workshop in Coffs Harbour, which will discuss “the social license of timber production in NSW native forests.”

Wood Central understands that the presentation will include new research commissioned by StollzNow Research – a market research firm that has for more than 25 years worked with government, community groups and cultural organisations on social licene research.


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