The mature native forests of the Kalang Headwaters provide a safety and buffer zone to old growth trees and rain forested areas at the headwaters of the Kalang River and its tributaries, filtration to the river system, as well as habitat for a myriad of threatened and endangered flora and fauna. This land is Gumbaynggirr Nation Country and important to maintaining their cultural heritage.
Logging in this steep fragile environment with a high annual rainfall will inevitably, as it has historically, result in heavy run off and sedimentation of the pristine Roses Creek and the Kalang River. This increased turbidity and associated sedimentation reduces water flows through siltation and smothers aquatic flora and fauna.
Environment groups, community members, businesses and the residents of the Kalang valley, some of whom rely on the river’s clean water for drinking, cooking and the watering of organic crops and stock are united in their goal to have these areas so vital to preserving a healthy water supply protected from an inevitable damage.
In 1992 a Department of Land and Water Conservation (DLWC) report found the Forestry Commission and its contractors had repeatedly breached soil-erosion control guidelines, creating several major landslips on Catbird Road in Oakes State Forest. DLWC estimated that over 88,000 tonnes of soil had been mobilised towards the headwaters of the Bellinger River near Mt Killiekrankie on the NSW Mid North Coast. In places, whole sections of land and vegetation moved en masse as the foundation rocks sheared. The river’s tributary creeks down slope of road works and logging operations were choked with spoil and rubble six feet deep in places. Downstream the creeks ran red with sediments. Evidence of this is still visible today. The steep terrain of the proposed logging operation in Oakes and Roses Creek SF, is again setting the scene for another possible mass erosion event.
Forestry Corporation is now able to log on steeper slopes, and buffer zones to fourth order streams ha to get to the big, old trees so vital to our threatened species. Extensive forests of big trees are the seed banks for making rain and we need greater protection for our waterways, not less.
Any logging in the proposed Headwaters Conservation Reserve (Buckra Bendinni, Rose’s Creek, Scotchman Oakes and Die Happy State Forests) is inconsistent with the protection and conservation of forest values including, water quality and quantity, biodiversity, ecosystem services and carbon storage required by the Bellingen community. We therefore call on the NSW Government to permanently end logging immediately and create the Headwaters Conservation Reserve protect the headwaters and tributaries of the Kalang, Bellinger and Nambucca Rivers in perpetuity.
The community ran a successful camp in the Kalang State forests (biodiversity Embassy) for 4 months until the November closure of public forests due to the risk of fires. This camp stopped logging in the headwaters and drew attention of the issue to the broader community, and is now reopening. Morning vigils have continued throughout this period. Vigil, and camp, have helped to provide a visible presence, met incoming vehicles and explained the concerns of the community.
A comprehensive reserve proposal has been prepared and submitted to the Minister. This proposal is supported in principle by Bellingen Shire council. The Friends of Kalang Headwaters (FOKH) has weekly meetings and is made up of individuals and alliances with Kalang River and Forest Alliance, Bellingen Environment Centre Inc and National Parks Association. This Strategic Plan is formulated to direct and prioritise FOKH’s actions. As such FOKH recognises that there are many others within the Bellingen, and the wider communities, that are working as individuals to stop the proposed logging of the Kalang Headwaters and are grateful for their continual efforts.