NSW WILDERNESS RED INDEX

Published by the Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd (September 1999)
2/332 Pitt Street Sydney NSW 2000 ph 02 9261 2400; fax 02 9261 2144
email keith@colongwilderness.org.au web site colongwilderness.org.au

NAME: Guy Fawkes
NOMINATED BY: The Wilderness Society - Armidale Branch (February 1990). Addition nominated by Colong Foundation, Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs, National Parks Association and The Wilderness Society on 15/5/97.
LOCATION: 65 km north east of Armidale and 65 km south west of Grafton.
SIZE: 112,470 ha ( originally nominated)
122,215 ha (identified 1992)
12,202 ha (1997 nominated additions, under NPWS assessment)
134,417 ha (combined total area of 1992 identified and 1997 nominated addition)
TENURE: Nominated Identified
Existing NPWS estate (Oct. 1993)
Guy Fawkes National Park
and Nature Reserve 36,025 ha 36,001 ha
Mann River Nature Reserve(1997 nom.) 5,640 ha under Assessment

New NPWS estate (Oct. 1993 to Sept. 1999)
Former State Forest 15,102 ha 16,500 ha
Former State Forest (1997 nomination) 538 ha under assessment
Former Crown Land 9,910 ha 10,690 ha
Former leasehold land 15,387 ha 15,387 ha

Other tenures
Chaelundi State Forest 4,576 ha 4,160 ha
Glen Nevis State Forest 2,608 ha 2,608 ha
Paddys Land State Forest 150 ha 435 ha
Oakwood State Forest 236 ha 236 ha
State Forest (1997 nomination) 4,165 ha under assessment
Vacant and reserved Crown land 2,456 ha 2,456 ha
Crown land (1997 nomination) 134 ha under assessment
Crown Leasehold land 24,070 ha 29,084 ha
Crown Leasehold land (1997 nomination) 487 ha under assessment
Freehold land 1,950 ha 4,658 ha
Freehold land (1997 nomination) 1,238 ha under assessment

Wilderness Declared:

Guy Fawkes River National Park (dissected by a travelling stock route);

Size of wilderness area: 48,074 ha
Percentage of identified and 1997 nom. areas: 36%

Wilderness Not Declared:

Guy Fawkes River National Park and Nature Reserve;

Size: 14,990 ha
Percentage of identified and 1997 nom. areas: 11%

Mann River Nature Reserve;

Size: 6,125 ha
Percentage of identified area and 1997 nom.: 5%

Lands acquired NPWS;

Size: 15,387 ha
Percentage of identified and 1997 nom. areas: 11%

State Forest;

Size: 11,784 ha
Percentage of identified and 1997 nom. areas: 9%

Crown land (vacant and reserved);

Size: 2,590 ha
Percentage of identified and 1997 nom. areas: 2%

Crown Leasehold land;

Size: 29,571 ha
Percentage of identified and 1997 nom. areas: 22%

Freehold land;

Size: 5,896 ha
Percentage of identified and 1997 nom. areas: 4%

DESCRIPTION

The Guy Fawkes River, situated in the Clarence River catchment and running approximately south to north, is mostly within the Guy Fawkes River National Park. Along with its major tributaries, the Aberfoyle and Sara Rivers, it has cut a number of deep gorges (400-1,000 metres). In the upper reaches of the river, situated on the Dorrigo Plateau, the rocks are primarily alkaline basalts from the Ebor volcano. Intruding granite masses also occur around Chaelundi Mountain to the east and in the Broadmeadows area on the Boyd River in the north. For much of its length, the meandering thread of the Guy Fawkes is guided by the strong line of the Demon Fault which runs north-south along its broad valley.

This fault system occurs along the junction of two major geological blocks, the Dyambering Block to the west being younger than the Coffs Harbour Block to the east. The beds of the Dyambering Block consist of sedimentaries and metamorphosed sediments, including greywacke, slate, siliceous argillite and mudstones.

The eastern part of the Wilderness Area includes two components of the Coffs Harbour Block - the Moombil Beds and the Brooklana Beds. These are Carboniferous turbidite sediments. The Chaelundi Complex, a large irregularly-shaped composite pluton of adamellite, intrudes into the Moombil Beds along the junction between the Moombil and Brooklana Beds. It is truncated along its western margin by the Demon Fault System.

Dramatic topography, geology and rainfall gradients from east to west have resulted in an extremely varied mosaic of vegetation types in the area. The major vegetation type is dry sclerophyll forest with a number of coastal affinities occurring on the steep gorge slopes and, to a lesser extent, on the broader valley flats. Areas of dry rainforest are found in protected gullies and gorges of easterly and south easterly aspects. On the tablelands above the escarpment, dry and wet sclerophyll forests of various associations dominate, with both sub-tropical and warm temperate rainforests to be found in protected gullies.

Of particular interest are the tall forests in the north eastern corner of the wilderness, especially the 4,160 ha of Chaelundi State Forest No 996 contained within the identified area. These are well-developed, nutrient rich, old growth forests including rainforests with a very high mammal diversity. Tree types include Tallowwood (E. microcorys), New England Blackbutt (E. andrewsii ssp. campanulata) and Silvertop Stringybark (E. laevopinea).

Significant plant communities, including 17 associations in old growth forests, are poorly conserved. Three other plant communities are inadequately conserved for part of their range, and there are an additional 15 previously undocumented plant associations in old growth forests. Thirteen nationally rare or threatened plants have been recorded within the Guy Fawkes River Wilderness.

The climatic, geological and landform variation combines to provide a rich fauna. Preliminary surveys record over 150 species of birds, 43 species of native mammals, 16 species of frogs and 42 species of reptiles.

According to data collected by the Forestry Commission (now called State Forests) three coupes within Chaelundi State Forest contain an estimated 399 - 2,857 arboreal mammals per square kilometre The compartments contain the highest density of arboreal mammals ever recorded in New South Wales, and possibly in Australia.

Twenty five species of fauna in Schedules 1 and 2 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 are present or likely to be present. Three bird and one mammal species expected to occur in the area are listed as Threatened.

Mammals listed in Schedules 1 and 2 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 include: the Koala (Phascolarctus cinereus); Yellow-bellied Glider (Petaurus australis); Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensis); Tiger Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus); Brushtail Rock Wallaby (Petrogale penicillata); Rufous Bettong (Aepyprymnus rufescens); Parma Wallaby (Macropus parma); Eastern False Pipistrelle (Falsistrellus tasmaniensis); and Little Bent-winged Bat (Miniopterus australis).

Endangered bird species present include: the Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua); Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae); Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa); and the Glossy Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami).

One protected amphibian, Fletcher's Frog (Lechriodus fletcheri) and a newly discovered Skink (Leiolopisma zia) have also been found in the area.

The Eastern Freshwater Cod, an endangered fish occurring only in parts of the Clarence River system, is found in the Guy Fawkes River and its tributaries. The Guy Fawkes is the longest wild river system on north coast of New South Wales.

LAND USE HISTORY:

Aboriginal Martiam, or Great Falls, was the name of this area, which constituted a large section of territory belonging to the Banbai Aboriginal People The Guy Fawkes River valley was likely to have been peripheral to the main traffic and trade routes between coastal and tablelands Aboriginal people. According to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), it was probably not a central place for settlement or resource exploitation. However, Chaelundi Mountain was a ceremonial site of very high significance to the Bundjalung communities.
Mining The northern section of Chaelundi State Forest, near Dalmorton and adjacent to the Boyd River and Chandlers Creek, was extensively mined for gold in the mid- to late 1880s. About the same time, the Ballards Flat on the Sara River was developed as a small alluvial prospect. In recent years exploration has recommenced and traces of gold have been found.

To the west of the nomination are a number of abandoned mine sites and mining "towns" situated around Bear Hill.

1993 February: Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) produced for a proposal by Southbridge Realty to establish an alluvial gold mine handling 55,000 tonnes per annum of alluvium on the Sara River within the identified wilderness. The project would have affected 17 kilometres of river flats upstream of the adjoining National Park.

April: Guyra Shire Council approves the Sara River goldmine along 17 kilometres of river flats upstream of and adjoining the national park. The venture did not ultimately proceed, however, the Crown Land within the mining proposal area remains outside the park and declared Wilderness Area.

Grazing The tablelands surrounding Guy Fawkes River were first settled in 1850, with grazing penetrating gorge country just over a decade later. The long history of grazing is reflected by place names such as The Fattening Paddock, situated south of Chaelundi Mountain. A significant number of Occupation Permits within the surrounding State Forests have been granted to local graziers.

Despite the creation of Guy Fawkes River National Park, a long section of reserved Crown Land along the eastern bank of the river has been maintained as a "long paddock" by local graziers. This has had a significant impact on the country, with several hundred head of cattle still being driven into the park. Other detrimental effects include: deliberately lit fires; overgrazing of the flats at the Aberfoyle confluence; and vehicular activity. The travelling stock route through the national park continues to be used to the present day, and illegal grazing and burning of the park remain a problem.

Logging The area surrounding the nomination has a long history of forestry operations. Considerable numbers of timber getters seeking Red Cedar were active around Dalmorton from the late 1800s.

Following the passing of the Forestry Act 1916 large areas were dedicated as State Forest in 1917, 1918 and again in 1934. In adjoining areas, regular logging commenced in 1916 with the opening of a number of sawmills, concentrating mostly on Hoop Pine. Extensive hardwood logging followed, with most roading occurring during and after the Second World War. Between 1973 and 1982 large areas of Leasehold land, Vacant Crown Land and Timber Reserves were dedicated as State Forests, particularly in the Marengo/Chaelundi area. At this time the Dorrigo Management Area was expanded to include the northern part of Chaelundi State Forest, being transferred from the Grafton Management Area.

The Wran Government decision of 1982 to discontinue rainforest logging did little more than seal the fate of the rainforest logging industry. The industry had mercilessly over-exploited its resources, with significant loss of rainforest habitats.

The Chaelundi forests were logged for Red Cedar in the late nineteenth century and for Coachwood to make plywood for aircraft during the Second World War. The Chaelundi region contains the major part of Dorrigo Management Area's unlogged forests.

The 1985 Forestry Commission Management Plan for the Dorrigo Management Area revealed intentions to remove 84,600 cubic metres of old growth sawlogs from the 52,722 ha constituting the Chaelundi Group of Forests (Chaelundi SF 36,779 ha, Marengo SF 10,894 ha and Hyland SF 5,049 ha). Significant intended roading was indicated but not detailed. This included substantial areas of Chaelundi State Forest, over 20,000 ha of which has never been logged. Some 7,000 ha of the area intended for logging are contained within the Wilderness Area.

The three major timber companies benefiting from the logging are G L Briggs and Sons Pty Ltd, Duncans Holdings Ltd and Boral. Logs extracted will be used primarily for cross-arms for telegraph poles and miscellaneous timber products, including woodchips. Over 30% of Boral's production is currently destined for the Japanese export woodchip market. Briggs export Tallowwood for the construction of Japanese marinas. Approximately 140 people are currently employed in the industry.

Logging of 660 ha of old growth forest within Chaelundi State Forest was undertaken by the Forestry Commission at the end of 1989 (Coupe Nos 179, 178 and 177). No environmental impact statement was produced, making the work illegal, according to the provisions laid down in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

1990 January: Forestry Commission decreases royalties on Tallowwood to make up for decline in Sawlog demand. Combined with currently existing transport rebates, this amounts to substantial public subsidy. This "sawlog crash", due to increasing sales of plantation softwood timber, led elements of the local industry to admit that they must re-structure in order to move out of old growth or close down

March: An inspection of Chaelundi finds that illegal roading has occurred and in an effort to prevent further activity, a court injunction is sought and obtained (March 14) by the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) pending the production of an Environmental Impact Statement.

Dorrigo District Forester, Mr John Murray, claims no EIS is required because properly managed logging did not significantly affect the environment.

The Forestry Commission seeks permission to log coupe nos 180, 198 and 200 while preparing the EIS, but finally caves in to NEFA's legal proceedings.

November: Forestry Commission produces its EIS which is immediately criticised as inadequate by independent scientists and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

1991 February: Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act the Forestry Commission assesses its own EIS report. This is criticised by NEFA. The Commission's Determination Report of February to approve logging is a mere formality.

July: Forestry Commission announces its intention to resume roading operations in Chaelundi.

August: 6: After Cabinet discussions, the Greiner Government endorses continued logging activity.

1992 Since the Guy Fawkes Wilderness was nominated in March 1990, the Forestry Commission has undertaken roading and logging operations within Chaelundi, Glen Nevis and London Bridge State Forests, and declared approximately 6,000 hectares of Crown Lands as additions to Glen Nevis, Oakwood and Paddys Land State Forests.

October: Forestry Commission releases the Environmental Impact Statement for Glen Innes Forest Management Area, covering London Bridge, Oakwood, Brother, and Glen Nevis State Forests. The Commission also releases Environmental Impact Statement for Dorrigo Management Area, covering Chaelundi State Forest. Both reports state the Forestry Commission's opposition to the inclusion of State Forests in wilderness areas and recommend logging of its old growth forests.

1993 July: Glen Innes Forest Management Plan EIS approved, with conditions, by the Minister for Planning, the Hon Robert Webster, allowing logging to proceed in moratorium areas.

HISTORY OF CONSERVATION MEASURES:

1970 November 27: Guy Fawkes River Nature Reserve of 1,534 ha dedicated.
1972 June 30: Guy Fawkes River National Park of 25,495 ha gazetted. Park subsequently expanded to 35,630 ha.
1985 Mann River Nature Reserve of 5,640 ha is dedicated.
1990 February: Wilderness Society Armidale Branch submits nomination of Guy Fawkes Wilderness Area.

March: John Corkill of North East Forest Alliance obtains injunction from Land and Environment Court to suspend logging of Chaelundi State Forest pending the Forestry Commission's preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement. 33 logging coupes, about 7,000 ha of Chaelundi within the Wilderness Nomination, are included in the injunction.

A blockade of the forest is also undertaken. Thirteen people arrested on the sixth day of the blockade, which also saw the implementation of the court injunction.

1991 February: Of the thirteen arrestees, five have their cases dismissed, as the Dorrigo District Court ruled that it was unlawful for the Forestry Commission to close the forest to facilitate an illegal logging operation.

19 July: Forestry Commission announces intention to recommence roading in Chaelundi. Blockades on Broadmeadow Road resumed.

26 July: Attempts to obtain an Interim Conservation Order of 28 days under Section 136(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 fail. Justice Hope, Chairman, Heritage Council NSW, immediately refers the issue to National Party Minister for Planning, Mr Robert Webster, who rejects the application. This decision follows National Party policy which forbids the use of the Heritage Act on places or items of National Heritage Value. Arrests rise to 70.

4 August: Police numbers rise to 100 and the number of arrests increases to 130. Police budget of $200,000 predicted to "blow out". Following the Greiner Government decision to endorse logging of Chaelundi the blockade continues despite "locking" of Broadmeadows Road.

9 August: John Corkill of the North East Forest Alliance takes action in the Land and Environment Court against the Forestry Commission over alleged breaches of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NP&W Act) in relation to threatened species.

25 September: Justice Stein of the Land and Environment Court rules in favour of the North East Forest Alliance, declaring the logging activity in Chaelundi illegal. In his judgment Justice Stein concludes: "The high species diversity of arboreal marsupials and the presence of numerous species listed in Schedule 12 of the NP&W Act makes it a veritable forest dependent zoo, probably unparalleled in south-eastern Australia".

8 November: An appeal by the NSW Government against Justice Stein’s ruling is unanimously rejected by the NSW Court of Appeal. The Government, in response, introduces a special regulation to exempt all Government Authorities from having to comply with endangered species laws.

12 December: The NSW Parliament disallows the Government regulation on exemption from threatened species regulations. A private members bill by Opposition spokesperson on the Environment, the Hon Pam Allan, to protect endangered species, is passed by both Houses with the support of independent MLAs and cross bench MLCs. This law, the Endangered Fauna (Interim Protection) Act 1991 makes the NPWS responsible for licensing forestry activities in native forest habitat.

1992 February: Guy Fawkes Wilderness is included in Terry Metherell's Wilderness (Declaration of New Areas) Bill. Following Metherell's resignation from Parliament, the Bill lapses with the close of Parliament at the end of the year.
March: National Parks and Wildlife Service release the Guy Fawkes River Wilderness Assessment. This assessment report identifies an area of 121,000 ha as satisfying the criteria for wilderness identification set by Section 6 of the Wilderness Act 1987. The preferred option of this report is that "all of the identified Guy Fawkes River wilderness area be reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and the provisions of the Wilderness Act 1987". The report also recommends that the Guy Fawkes River system and Henry River be dedicated as wild and scenic rivers.
March: Despite the failure of Dr Metherell’s wilderness legislation, Environment Minister Tim Moore succeeds in placing the Guy Fawkes Wilderness under the moratorium provisions of Schedule 2 of the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Act 1992 (TI(IP) Act) until the environmental impact statements for Glen Innes and Dorrigo Forest Management Areas are determined by the Minister for Planning. Schedule 3 of the TI(IP) Act requires the Guy Fawkes Wilderness to be assessed by 31 October, 1992.

June: The Prime Minister and the Premiers of all Australian states, except Tasmania, sign National Forest Policy Statement. This Statement declares "until the assessments (of forests for conservation values) are completed, forest management agencies will avoid activities that may significantly affect those areas of old growth forest or wilderness that are likely to have high conservation value".

1993 23 December : Fahey Government announces declarations within 7 of the 10 areas nominated by environmental groups including 47,064 ha at Guy Fawkes. The Bicentennial Trail is to be excluded, along with Brother and Paddys Land State Forests. London Bridge, Chaelundi, Oakwood and Glen Nevis State Forests are referred for a socio-economic assessment to The Natural Resources Audit Council (NRAC), a now defunct interdepartmental body.The area actually declared is later reduced dramatically in response to Coalition backbench pressure.
1994 14 September: Guy Fawkes Wilderness declared but at a greatly reduced area of
29,625 ha. It is carved into three areas by: the 20 metre wide Bicentennial Trail; the retention of a travelling stock route along the river; and the exclusion of the Sara River gold dredging site.

22 September: Bob Carr, the Leader of the Opposition, censures the Premier for breaching his promises on wilderness and commits NSW Labor to the declaration of twelve new wilderness areas.

1995 March: The ALP wilderness policy is released in the NSW election campaign. The platform undertakes to declare seven new wilderness areas and additions to nine existing areas, including Guy Fawkes.

May: Labor Government ceases logging in all NPWS identified wilderness areas.

1996 April: Gazettal of 10,400 ha of Crown Land as additions to Guy Fawkes River National Park.

September: Government announces additions of 18,200 ha to the Guy Fawkes Wilderness to be reserved from areas of State Forest, National Park and Crown Land. The Government also announces the Dunphy Wilderness Fund of 1 million dollars per annum, initially over five years, for the acquisition of freehold and leasehold areas identified as wilderness.

December: The Forestry Revocation Act 1996 is passed by parliament and 15,325 ha of former state forest within the identified wilderness is reserved, including some of the most disputed areas of old growth in Chaelundi and London Bridge State Forests.
1997 Subsequent to the 1996 interim forest park outcome, the Government establishes the Occupational Permit fund of 3.7 million dollars. This flags 17 leasehold or freehold properties for acquisition as a compensatory measure to landholders whose occupational grazing permits were in areas gazetted as new National Parks. This schedule includes three properties in the Guy Fawkes Wilderness.

15 May: The Colong Foundation, Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs, National Parks Association and The Wilderness Society submit recommended additions and link areas to an earlier (23 October, 1996) nomination of provisionally identified wilderness (PIW) areas. These had been identified by the NPWS during the forestry interim assessment process (IAP) They include a proposed wilderness link between Guy Fawkes National Park and Mann River Nature Reserve. The proposal, and the earlier PIW area, are accepted by the Director-General of the NPWS as wilderness nominations.

20 October: The NPWS acquires two leasehold portions totalling 3,455 ha in the Aberfoil River area within the identified wilderness using the Dunphy Fund.

1998 April: The NPWS acquires 960 ha in the Henry River Valley with the Dunphy Fund, connecting the Henry Falls section with the main body of this wilderness National Park.

July: As part of the Comprehensive Regional Assessment (CRA) of north-east NSW, several new wilderness areas and additions to existing wilderness areas are recommended by the NPWS. This includes a 12,202 ha northern addition to Guy Fawkes Wilderness in Brother State Forest, Mt Mitchell State Forest, Mann River Nature Reserve and intervening freehold land on Four Mile Creek.

November: The Government announces its reserve outcomes for the north-east forestry regions. No wilderness declarations are included, but the long standing logging moratorium is retained over identified wilderness in some key areas of State Forests which are precluded from immediate reservation due to underlying grazing leases. The remaining unreserved State Forests in the identified wilderness are placed in a category of "areas for further consideration for reservation", pending leasehold constraints. The timber quotas for such areas are not counted towards budgeted allocations for the 20 years of the pending forest agreements.

December: The Forestry and National Park Estate Act 1998 is passed by State Parliament. The new law prevents the identification of wilderness in State Forests that are covered by an Integrated Forest Logging Approval (IFOA). This will effectively cut the proposed linking additions through Brother State Forest from Guy Fawkes Wilderness to the Mann River Nature Reserve. Part of the link, however (within compartments 75, 76, 77, 78, 80, 81, 82, 85, 86,.87, 88, 95 and 97 of Brother State Forest), is to be placed in a Forest Management Zone (FMZ) Special Prescription Area (SPA) under the control of the Minister for Forests. Following wilderness assessment, these FMZ areas may be added to NPWS estate in conjunction with adherent freehold, although the connectivity to Mann River Nature Reserve could become tenuous.

On the 16th of December the NPWS acquires a further 372 ha of leasehold land using the Dunphy Fund.

1999 19 February: The NPWS acquires the 10,600 ha Wards Mistake property with the Dunphy Fund.

26 February: The Minister for the Environment declares 18,490 ha of additions to Guy Fawkes Wilderness which includes the areas announced in September 1996 and additionally 290 ha of Crown Land.

19 March: The Office of Premier Carr makes a commitment to assess and exhibit all nominated areas in north-east NSW by the end of 1999. If the forest approvals have not been signed in advance of wilderness identification, or the relevant Forest Management Zone areas are excluded from the approvals, the wilderness identification process will not be constrained by the Forestry and National Parks Estate Act 1998.

20 March: The Carr Government commits to fund the Dunphy Wilderness Fund beyond its anticipated expiry in 2001 and maintains a logging moratorium over wilderness leasehold lands, including leasehold State Forest areas.

THREATS:

Mining An alluvial gold mining scheme was proposed by Southbridge Realty Pty Ltd for the southern/western side of the Sara River adjacent to the Guy Fawkes National Park, just upstream of Ballard's Flat. This was within the identified Wilderness Area.

An EIS for this proposal was put on display on 25/2/93. Problems with the EIS included: a broad disclaimer from the consultant who prepared the EIS; erroneous assessment of effects of the mine relating to wilderness, national parks, endangered fauna, water quality and wild rivers; and accusation of "malicious damage of machinery" committed by conservationists.

A Government source confirms that in January 1993 an unidentified person, or persons cut down approximately 1,000 trees both inside and outside the Guy Fawkes National Park in the area of the proposed Sara River Mine, within Guy Fawkes Wilderness.

Approval for the mining proposal was given on 19/4/93 by Guyra Shire Council. However, the applicant failed to establish the venture within the approval period and the threat has lapsed for the present.

The environmental impacts of gold mining are well known and include: siltation, sedimentation and pollution of waterways resulting from extraction processes; soil erosion and collapse of tailings piles; cyanide and heavy metal discharges; disturbance of aesthetic qualities of the natural environment; noise pollution associated with transport of materials; and the introduction of weeds and feral animals along access roads.

Recommendations: The mining lease 1063 should be acquired by the Government and no further leases issued. The Sara River Crown lands should be immediately added to the park and wilderness.

Grazing Grazing is undertaken in much of the drier western section of the wilderness and use of the flats along the Guy Fawkes River as a travelling stockroute continues.
Grazing is entirely inconsistent with wilderness values and its environmental impacts well known. These include: soil compaction and erosion; disturbance of water purity through sedimentation and nutrification; trampling of bogs and other sensitive plant communities; urine scalding and faeces nutrification of sensitive flora; destruction of ecosystems through burning for young shoots and resulting wildfires; waste generated by cattlemen; introduction of weeds; off-road vehicle use and shooting by cattlemen and the disturbance of native fauna.

Recommendations: The NPWS should take immediate action to halt illegal grazing in Guy Fawkes River National Park.

The Travelling Stock Routes within the Wilderness Area should be revoked and the lands added to the National Park and Wilderness.

Logging and Roading Pine Creek Catchment – Chaelundi State Forest: Broadmeadows Road was upgraded in late 1989 to logging road status for approximately 10 km north from its intersection with Chaelundi Road. Associated logging of 660 ha of pristine old growth forest in the southern catchment of Pine Creek ensued. Logging has been excluded from the area since the blockade activities and subsequent moratoriums in 1991/92.

While the 1998 forest decision released many forest areas from interim protection or moratorium, the Carr Government later committed to the protection of NPWS identified wilderness from logging, including leasehold State Forest in wilderness, until leases can be acquired by the NPWS under the Dunphy Fund. The proposed mechanism for interim protection – informal reserves under State Forest control - is considered inadequate as boundaries and logging permission may be open to Ministerial discretion.

Chaelundi has been identified as supporting the highest density of arboreal mammals in Australia. Logging activity will have severe impacts on the abundant and diverse flora and fauna of the area.

The former State Forests in the west of the Wilderness are dissected by Forestry Commission fire trails and logging roads. The most significant is the Corner Camp Fire Trail, upgraded to a logging road prior to inclusion of the area in the park. This cuts across the most north westerly corner of the National Park, to join the Grafton Road. The London Bridge road was also upgraded under an intention to log the area which is now within the declared wilderness.

The following compartments of Brother State Forest in the nominated wilderness extension are available for logging following the Government’s 1998 decision: 79 and 96 and parts of 77, 78, 81, 89, 90, 97 and 98.

The environmental impacts of logging include: soil compaction and erosion; pollution of streams with silt and sediment; escaped regeneration burns; fires due to arson and the escape of controlled burns which produce excessive CO2 emissions; the introduction of noxious weeds, feral animals; crown dieback along logging roads and firetrails; destruction of flora and fauna; and general ecosystem degradation.

Recommendations: The moratorium over logging in identified wilderness must be maintained. Adequate funds need to be provided through the Dunphy Wilderness Fund for the acquisition and subsequent reservation of the sections of Chaelundi and Glen Nevis State Forests subject to grazing leases. Logged areas should be revegetated and roads ripped and revegetated. Nominated areas should be assessed as soon as possible and areas subsequently identified as wilderness by the NPWS should be immediately protected from logging and reserved as wilderness parks as soon as possible.

Bicentennial
Horse Trail
The Bicentennial Horse Trail runs down the centre of the Wilderness along the western side of Guy Fawkes River on what is currently a Travelling Stock Route descending into the Wilderness from McDonalds Ridge. These horseriding tours through the National Park were established without prior public consultation.

Horseriding undermines wilderness values and its environmental impacts are well known. These include: introduction of exotic weeds contained in droppings as seeds; soil compaction, erosion and widening of walking tracks; clearing associated with pickets and corral construction; disturbance of native wildlife and wilderness solitude.

Passing the Trail through wilderness areas is completely contrary to the promises given by the Bicentennial National Trail organisation. A letter to the Foundation reported that "In all cases where the Trail passes through or near national parks, the route has been determined through consultation with National Parks and Wildlife Service staff to ensure that the Trail does not encroach on any existing or future Wilderness Areas" (emphasis added).

Recommendations: That the Bicentennial National Trail be rerouted around the Guy Fawkes Wilderness and horseriding be excluded from the Wilderness.

CONTACT ORGANISATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS

Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd
Level 2, 332 Pitt Street
SYDNEY NSW 2000
Contact: Keith Muir (Director) Ph: (w) 02 9261 2400
FAX: 02 9261 2144
e-mail: keith@colongwilderness.org.au

North East Forest Alliance
Big Scrub Environment Centre
123 Keen Street
LISMORE NSW 2480
Contact: John Corkill Ph: 02 6622 4737
Fax: 02 6622 2676
e-mail brushbox@mail.nrg.com.au

RELEVANT ARTICLES:

Colong Bulletin 129 November 1991 pp 1-2 "Wilderness Last"

Colong Bulletin 131 March 1992 pp 1-2 "The Wilderness (Declaration of New Areas) Bill".

Colong Bulletin 133 July 1992 p 3 "Support the Wilderness Nominations".

Colong Bulletin 134 September 1992 p 8 "Anti-Conservationists Rampant".

Colong Bulletin 135 November 1992 p6 "Wilderness in the balance".

Colong Bulletin 135 November 1992 p8 "Crown Lands Go West".

Colong Bulletin 138 May 1993 p2 "Gold Mine Threat to Guy Fawkes Wilderness".

Colong Bulletin 142 January 1994 p10, "Forest Minister Ignores Premier over Wilderness Logging".

Colong Bulletin 147, November 1994, p5, "The Fahey Government’s Wildernesses".

Colong Bulletin 151, July 1995 p6, "Labor’s Wilderness Moratorium".

Colong Bulletin 156, May 1996 p8, "Wilderness Protection - Navigating the way forward".

Colong Bulletin 157, July 1996 p3, "Wilderness Protection Scheme".

Colong Bulletin 159, p7, "Major advances in Wilderness and Forest Protection".

Colong Bulletin 166, January 1998 p7-8, "Wilderness - The hard yards".

Colong Bulletin 171, November 1998, p5 "Forests go into the Parliamentary Crucible"

Colong Bulletin 172 January 1999 p7, "Forest Fandango".

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