‘At first we thought it was the world’s biggest booby trap’
Forest users have been horrified to find huge old-growth trees destroyed - some left still standing precariously - in a popular State Forest north of Coffs Harbour.
When the damage was first noticed along the service road bordering the Wedding Bells State Forest a regular forest user, who has asked not to be named, thought it was a deliberate attempt at sabotage.
"At first we thought it was the world's biggest booby trap with the large wedges in the front and the back cuts. One of those huge trees could easily crush five vehicles."
Further inspection found several trees in different stages of what appears to be an illegal milling operation.
The damage has occurred along the telecommunication service road running north from the base of Farm Trail which comes out near Sherwood Creek Road.
"This is so destructive, these old growth trees can't be replaced, they're all habitat trees and they're the ones Forestry wouldn't take. They would mark them to get left because they are so ecologically significant but whoever wants the hard wood has taken the oldest and biggest trees.
"Whoever has done this has a history in the industry using sophisticated tools to not only get trees down and then mill them. The trees that have been felled have neat bench top cuts, they're not using a chainsaw."
Several users have reported seeing a man cutting the trees and a description has been given to the police.
The Advocate alerted the Forestry Corporation of NSW to the destruction and Tom Newby, Protection Coordinator for the North Coast, said staff would inspect the damage over the weekend.
"I don't know what's got into the head of somebody to make them do what they've done there.
"We will get in and assess the damage but from looking at those photos we will have to get in there and remove the hazard."
The Wedding Bells State Forest is one of several across the State officially closed to the public due to the bushfire emergency.