Threatened forest site tours on offer 

LOCAL environment groups have come together to organise a tour of the Leard and Pilliga forests they say are under threat from coal and coal seam gas mining. 

From toda y until Sunday, the groups will conduct a tour to bring attention to the issue.

Spokeswoman Pat Schultz says the iconic forests are in immediate grave danger and without swift action, they could both be lost.

Ms Schultz said the Maules Creek coalmine, approved by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission just two weeks ago, would clear nearly 4000 acres of white box woodland, which had the highest endangered rating in the country. 

“This will turn a critically endangered ecosystem into a gaping hole in the ground, and destroy habitat for threatened species like the koala,” she said.

A tour operator from Mystery Dingo Tours, Murray Drechsler, has been camping at the proposed mine site for the past two months.

It has become known as the Frontline Action on Coal group’s protest camp.

Mr Drechsler said they were inviting the public to join them at the camp for the weekend 

“We want to show people the beauty of this area, and its environmental and cultural significance,” he said.

Today, the group will start with a walk to the Wallaby Trap at Porcupine Hill before an excursion to the sculptures on Pensioners Hill at Gunnedah. 

Local Aboriginal elder Mick Horn will talk about the significance of the places to his people.

Tomorrow, the group will move on to the Leard Forest.

On Sunday, Pilliga farmer Tony Pickard will lead the group through the Pilliga State Forest, where he has been keeping an eye on gas company, Santos’s activities over the past couple of years.

Mr Pickard is expected to show the group a water treatment plant, gas pipelines, pilot production wells and sites of water discharge.

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