CASE DECIDED: The Land and Environment Court has delivered judgment. See our webpages for details of the judgment and its implications.

NEW CASE UPDATE: The Land and Environment Court heard oral closing submissions on 7 September 2023. The case is now reserved for judgment. The NSW Forestry Corporation has agreed to extend its pause on logging of these forests until judgment.

CASE UPDATE:  Our clients went to the Land and Environment court on Wednesday August 2nd where, after a short hearing, the case was adjourned until 14th August for the final hearing.

The NSW Forestry Corporation has agreed to extend its pause on logging these forests until that date.

We will seek to have the hearing made available to the public via audiovisual link.

Dailan Pugh of NEFA, third from left, with supporters outside court.

July 31 2023: The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has lodged an application for an urgent injunction [1] to stop NSW Forestry Corporation logging vital koala habitat in two state forests in northeast NSW.

If granted, it would be the first time a community group has obtained a logging injunction in NSW in more than 20 years.

In a brief hearing late Friday, the Forestry Corp agreed to cease logging in the habitat until Wednesday, August 2, when the urgent interlocutory application will be heard by the court.

Myrtle and Braemar state forests [2] were hit hard by the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires. The forests are in an area where experts say the fires reduced the koala population by 70 per cent or more. [3]

NEFA’s own surveys indicate koalas remain present, highlighting the importance of protecting the area. The forests before the fires were also home to 23 other threatened species, including the southern greater glider, yellow-bellied glider, rufous bettong, masked owl and squirrel glider. [4]

NEFA has asked the Land and Environment Court, through the Environmental Defenders Office, to grant an urgent interlocutory injunction. If granted, this will prohibit Forestry Corp from conducting the operations in these forest areas until the final proceedings are determined, or until the court makes further orders.

NEFA President Dailan Pugh said: “Action is urgently required as logging operations appear active or imminent, with both areas of forest now closed to the public.  Koalas in these forests were devastated by the 2019-20 bushfires and are only beginning to recover. Logging of most of their feed trees will be a nail in the coffin of this population. NEFA’s years of advocacy have held hold off logging in these nationally important koala habitats. It is very disappointing that we have to resort to legal action to protect these areas given the new government’s pledge to protect koalas.”

Mr Pugh called on the government to immediately require independent pre-logging koala surveys, protect the areas where koalas are found, and retain all mature Koala feed trees in linking habitat.

North Coast Environment Council (NCEC) Vice President Susie Russell said: “NSW Premier Chris Minns stated recently that protecting koalas was non-negotiable. We agree. Unfortunately, the NSW Government has done nothing to protect koalas anywhere across the entire state forest estate,” Ms Russell said. “Their trees, their homes are being destroyed in multiple locations daily with the state government’s agreement. This is a spearhead legal action to try and make the government actually walk the talk.”

EDO Special Counsel Emily Long said: “The 2019-20 bushfires were devastating for our native forests, impacting hundreds of species of flora and fauna. A long recovery is still underway. With the koala on a sharp trajectory to extinction in NSW, Forestry Corporation started operations in forests containing important koala habitat and a koala population that is still trying to hold on after the fires. 

“Our client will argue that Forestry Corporation’s decision to approve these operations in Braemar and Myrtle state forests was unlawful and should be set aside.  NEFA has sought an urgent injunction at the outset to protect the forests while the case is heard. Ultimately, NEFA is seeking orders to set aside the decisions of Forestry Corporation to approve the operations.”  


After the fires, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) established special conditions to reduce the impacts of logging in bushfire-affected areas. After those conditions expired in 2021, Forestry Corp advised the EPA it intended to return to harvesting under the standard rules. At the time, the EPA stated post-fire logging posed a major environmental risk, but Forestry Corp decided to implement its own ‘voluntary conditions’, independently of the EPA. NEFA believes that logging in Braemar and Myrtle forests under the ‘voluntary’ rules will cause irreparable harm to the environment, including impacts to the remaining koala population.


NEFA will argue that the logging operations are unlawful for several reasons – because the operations are not ecologically sustainable, because Forestry Corp failed to consider whether they would be ecologically sustainable, and because the proposed use of ‘voluntary conditions’ is in breach of the logging rules. As the proceedings progress to a final hearing, NEFA will ultimately ask the court to declare the logging approvals invalid and to restrain Forestry Corporation from conducting the operations.


[1] See summons here.

[2] Maps for Braemar SF. Map for Myrtle SF.

[3] 2020, Phillips et al. Quantifying the impacts of bushfire on koalas insights from the 2019-2020 fire season. WWF.

[4] Across the contentious compartments in both state forests, based on Bionet, there were 24 threatened species recorded before the fires. Endangered: Koalas, southern greater glider, weeping paperbark, emu. Vulnerable: Yellow-bellied glider, slaty red gum, grey-headed flying fox, south-eastern glossy black-cockatoo, rufous bettong, squirrel glider, masked owl, little lorikeet, brown treecreeper, black-chinned honeyeater, grey-crowned babbler, barking owl, powerful owl, diamond firetail, and little bent-winged bat, scarlet robin, dusky woodswallow, varied sittella, little eagle, green-thighed frog.


EDO | James Tremain | 0419 272 254