EPA inspection confirms trees in Ellis State Forest lawfully harvested

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has conducted an inspection at Ellis State Forest, inland from Coffs Harbour, in response to allegations that four giant trees had been unlawfully harvested and seven giant trees were damaged during forestry operations.

During the inspection, EPA officers measured the four harvested trees and found that none of them fall within the definition of a giant tree under the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (CIFOA) and Protocols. This is because their diameter 30cm above ground height did not exceed 140cm.

EPA Executive Director Regulatory Operations Carmen Dwyer said tree diameters must be measured using the correct technique. 

“The CIFOA Protocols specify how to measure a tree’s diameter. This involves establishing the ground level, establishing stump height and measuring the diameter of the trunk using a diameter tape measure,” Ms Dwyer said.

The inspection also examined reports of alleged damage to seven giant trees. 

The inspection confirmed that six trees had received superficial damage. However, the damage was not considered serious enough to affect the tree’s longevity or suitability to fulfil the purpose for which it was retained under the CIFOA. 

The inspection also found that the seventh tree was uprooted by the wind. This was evidenced by the root bulb being attached and the tree not being harvested. There was also no evidence of any impact with a harvesting machine.

As a result of the inspection findings, there is insufficient evidence to warrant the issue of a Stop Work Order.

The EPA’s investigation into other allegations concerning damage to retained trees is ongoing, so we are unable to provide further comment at this time.