Enviro vandals targetted

NOT ON OUR WATCH: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council director Matt Rogers, right, with bushland management team Helen Ward, Matt Bell and Stephen Friedrich with one of the many trees cut down by vandalls.

NOT ON OUR WATCH: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council director Matt Rogers, right, with bushland management team Helen Ward, Matt Bell and Stephen Friedrich with one of the many trees cut down by vandalls.

ILLEGAL culling and damage of native bushland in the Lake Cathie area has prompted Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to take action.

A large sign that encourages residents and bushwalkers to help preserve the natural habitat has been installed in bushland behind Chepana Street.

The Lake Cathie street is the latest area of damaged native bushland that Council is investigating, where individuals illegally cleared an area of littoral rainforest.

The community bushland area behind Chepana St is classified as a 'SEPP 26 listed littoral rainforest of considerable importance'.

It is listed as an endangered ecological community under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act and as 'critically endangeredNOT ON' under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The area also supports key populations of endangered species, such as the white-flowered wax plant (Cynanchumelegans).

As part of creating access to the beach someone has cleared their own path by cutting down vegetation, which is illegal and carries hefty fines.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council Director Matt Rogers said they take all acts of vandalism extremely seriously.

"The specifics if the situation points to who may have done this but we don't have any direct evidence so we are unable to take direct legal action," he said.

"We are doing what we can do by showing we will not tolerate this."

A number of local residents have contacted Council to express their concerns over damage that has been done by individuals across the Port Macquarie-Hastings local government area.

"The installation of the signs is a part of our response to try and deter this kind of thing, to inform the community of what has happened and urge them to report any incidents," Mr Rogers said.

"We have a very sensitive environment in this particular area.

"This is part of a threatened literal rainforest eco system and is on the dunes of an area that has costal recession under way, so to destabilise the dunes by the vegetation removal is not in anyone's interest.

"It's also a slap in the face of other residents who are members of land care who have put their own time in to help maintain and restore this vegetation.

"Council is focussed on protecting our vegetation and wildlife habitat, and asks for the communities support by reporting acts of vandalism".

In line with actions undertaken by Councils across the Mid-North Coast, Council will install more signs following instances of environmental vandalism.

There are significant fines of up to several hundred thousand dollars if caught damaging native vegetation.

To report acts of environmental vandalism contact Port Macquarie-Hastings Council on 6581 8111 or email council@pmhc.nsw.gov.au

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