'It would break my heart': Forestry plans would ruin habitat
AT 88 years of age Doug Hayes considers himself more of a naturalist than he ever was, which is why he wants to save sections of his property from being cleared.
When he and his wife Betty bought their 50ha property at Clunes they were given the chance to rehabilitate areas that couldn't be used to grow their macadamia trees.
"About 35 years ago the Forestry Commission asked us if there was any land we didn't want, such as steep areas, so they could plant trees," Mr Hayes said.
"We gave them about 17ha and they planted black butt and flooded gum.
"I am a very keen naturalist and was happy to build a koala habitat.
"This area is very important as it is the end of the corridor for them."
Mr Hayes said there were no koalas on his land before they started planting trees but now they had established a habitat for them.
"There is now three species of wallaby, 14 bird species we hadn't seen before and lots of rainforest birds."
Mr Hayes said rainforest seeds that had lain dormant for so long had since flourished and there were plenty of ferns growing down by the creek running through his property.
According to Mr Hayes, however, all that is about to change when his son, who now runs the farm, received a call from the Forestry Commission to say they want the land back to clear fell all the trees they had grown.
"They want the trees for wood chips to feed the Broadwater sugar mill," he said.
"It's not only trees here, but it's a habitat now with wallabies, echidnas and even butterflies.
"It would break my heart to turn these trees into woodchip."
A spokeswoman from the Forestry Corporation of NSW confirmed an agreement between Mr Hayes and itself.
"On 1 September 1997, the then Forestry Commission of NSW entered into a commercial agreement to establish a eucalypt plantation on agricultural land that had previously been cleared for future harvest," she said.
"The 30 year agreement with the landowner terminates in 2027 and harvesting may occur at any time until the agreement ends.
"Forestry Corporation currently has no plans in place for harvesting the plantation on the Hayes property and has not undertaken the assessment to identify potential timber products that might be produced.
"Under the agreement, profits from the sale of any timber products from the plantation are to be shared between the parties."