Stop Work Order issued for forestry operations in Flat Rock State Forest

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued an immediate Stop Work Order to Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) to cease harvesting in parts of the Flat Rock State Forest, near Ulladulla on the south coast.

Following a community complaint, EPA officers inspected several sites in one active logging compartment yesterday and identified what appeared to be an endangered Southern Greater Glider den tree within 30 metres of active logging. The EPA understands that no den trees were identified by FCNSW prior to logging commencing.

Under the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval, FCNSW is required to plan, implement and conduct forestry operations in a competent manner. Once identified, FCNSW is required to protect den trees and implement 50 metre exclusion zones around them.

The Stop Work Order requires FCNSW to cease all harvesting, haulage operations, and any road and track construction and maintenance work in the areas of concern in Flat Rock State Forest.

EPA Executive Director Operations Jason Gordon said the protection of the Southern Greater Glider and the vulnerable Yellow-Bellied Glider was especially important given the impacts of the 2019/20 bushfires.

“These glider species rely heavily on unburnt areas of forest after much of their habitat was impacted by the fires.

“The EPA alleges that FCNSW has not conducted detailed and thorough searches necessary to identify all Greater Glider and Yellow-Bellied Glider den trees within the Flat Rock State Forest compartment.

“FCNSW have advised pre-harvest surveys indicated the presence of 137 glider sap feed trees. The EPA considers that this makes it likely that a family group of yellow-bellied gliders are active in the vicinity and would require a number of den trees, yet no den trees were identified.

“Den trees and their surrounding habitat are critical for the gliders’ feeding and movement and removal of habitat removes shelter and food, making the gliders vulnerable to harm.

“This Stop Work Order is necessary to ensure required measures are in place to protect glider den trees.

“The EPA expects FCNSW to meet the requirements in the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (CIFOA) to protect Southern Greater Gliders,” Mr Gordon said.

Separately, the EPA has also commenced discussions with FCNSW to strengthen the survey requirements in the CIFOA to ensure the future protection of critical habitat for threatened species such as the Southern Greater Glider and yellow-bellied glider.