July 2006
A logging operation undertaken by Forests NSW in the Chaelundi State Forest, south west of
Grafton, earlier this month saw the destruction of a large number of an endangered Cycad species,
Macrozamia johnsonii.
The Chaelundi forests were the site of massive forest logging protests and blockades over a decade
ago, following which certain areas were declared national parks and the “Integrated Forest
Operations Approval" was drawn up with the help of the then National Parks and Wildlife Service.
That approval spelled out protocols for protecting threatened species and high value habitat within
State Forests, in line with provisions of the Threatened Species Conservation Act.
Cycads belong to an ancient order of flowerless plants, that have survived some 160 million years.
They are slow-growing, some living for thousands of years, growing into large palm-like trees.
Their ferny, glossy dark green fronds give these larger species a spectacular appearance, and none
more so than Chaelundi's endangered
Macrozamia johnsonii.
With up to 120, three metre long
fronds, atop trunks as high as 3 metres and 90cms in diameter,
M. johnsonii
certainly stands out,
and in places can be found growing in dense thickets.
How many of these endangered cycads have been destroyed in this incident, we will never know.
The Operations Approval for the Upper North Coast spells out Department of Environment and
Conservation (DEC) licence conditions in relation to
M. johnsonii
as follows (page 129,
Prescription 31: Threatened plant prescription C):
Where there is a record of one or more of the species listed in part d) of this prescription in the
compartment or within ten metres of the compartment boundary the following must apply.
Buffers of ten metres radius must be established around all individuals of those species.
Specified forestry activities must be excluded from these buffers. All practical precautions
should be taken to avoid felling trees into these buffers.
The logging of this single old-growth tree resulted in the destruction shown
here. The ground is littered with damaged
fronds, while survivors
can b e seen in the background and front left foreground.