PROTESTORS claim to have again briefly halted logging in Arcadia forest “following more breaches of logging guidelines by Forest Products Commission (FPC) logging contractors”.
A Department of Environment and Conservation spokesman retorted logging would only have halted to protect the protestors.
Arcadia Action Alliance (AAA) spokesman Peter Murphy said on Tuesday that the FPC allowed a 40-tonne logging machine to destroy part of a designated stream reserve and, in doing so, bulldozed several ancient grass-trees and several rare swamp banksias.
AAA members brought logging to a standstill in Arcadia for at least two hours on Monday and nearly six hours on March 12, Mr Murphy said.
He complained the Department of Environment and Conservation “simply turns a blind-eye to the breaches” of the current Forest management plan and complaints were never followed-up.
“Breaches, such as bulldozing of habitat trees, logging in stream reserves, violating diverse eco-zones and the spreading of dieback are now happening on a regular basis, all because the DEC appear to have handed the responsibility of conservation of the forest over to the logging contractors,” he claimed.
DEC Wellington District manager Drew Griffiths said on Tuesday afternoon he was not aware of any breaches in Arcadia.
“A routine inspection today found that all the harvesting operations within Arcadia were in accordance with all standards, as it has been reported every week,” he said.
“I am also not aware of any halting of the harvesting operation apart from some safety precautions that the forest workers use which is to cease working with any machinery when approached by members of the public, who apparently disregard and/or bypass the signs that designate the coupe as a worksite with machine operation hazards.
“I do not know what the reference is to the destruction of ‘part of a designated stream reserve’.
“In Arcadia there is no designated stream reserve, per se and I can only surmise that what is being referred to is an old-growth exclusion area and a buffer that was placed on the adjacent private property for aesthetic reasons.
“If this is the case, my officers have found nothing to suggest that any incursion into these areas has occurred. Nonetheless I will now redirect my officers from other duties to check all boundaries again tomorrow.”
The alleged bulldozing of habitat trees, logging in stream reserves, violating diverse eco-zones and the spreading of dieback were “in contrast to the reports I consistently receive from officers who routinely inspect the area at least weekly reporting all is in accordance with the standards”, Mr Griffiths said.
“Formal surveys to detect any damage to habitat trees or any incursions into diverse ecotype zones have been conducted and no breaches have been identified.
“The risk of spreading dieback disease is minimised by a strict dieback management plan, which is also being followed correctly.
“There appears to be some evidence of unauthorised vehicles entering the coupe on some nights. These vehicles may be crossing back and forth over dieback control lines in ignorance and despite the FPC’s regular blocking of roads and tracks leading into the coupe.”
However, the soil was now so dry, the risk of unauthorised vehicles spreading dieback was negligible, Mr Griffiths added.
Mr Murphy said AAA would continue to monitor logging in Arcadia.