‘The trees were sacred’: Ironbark felling causes clan rift
THE wholesale clearing of sacred ironwood trees in Lakefield National Park is being investigated after the decimation of 8000 of the species in nearby Kalinga and Mary Valley stations.
The ironwood lumber, sacred to the Thaypan people, was allegedly razed without regard to its size, age, or cultural significance and shipped to China after a logging operation driven by the Kyerrwanhdha Thingalkal Land Trust.
KTLT forged ahead with the operation through its timber company, Oga Alugul Pty Ltd, directed by trust chairman Alwyn Lyle.
"Many of the traditional owners are shocked," KTLT vice-chairman Wayne Costello said.
"I was disheartened when I saw the trees, some had been cut down, stacked and left there.
"These trees were sacred to myself and my family. The young generation will not have their stories."
Thaypan families were told the operation would be sustainable forest management that would create jobs.
However, most of the work was performed by contractors.
Oga Alugul co-director Thomas Houghton tried in vain to control the logging.
"I was supposed to survey monitor the trees for cultural significance," he said.
Mr Houghton said the loggers ignored his warnings within the first fortnight.
Six weeks later he left the operation, feeling disenfranchised.
"Some of these trees live to 300 years old. The scars were made by our ancestors," Mr Houghton said.
"I thought there'd be understanding from someone close in blood. That's what hurts the most."
KTLT chairman Alwyn Lyle stood by the logging and said the state government "were happy" with the operation.
He declined to answer questions about the matter from the Cairns Post.
A Department of Natural Resources and Mines spokeswoman said a 2020 investigation found "no significant non compliance".
But Queensland Parks and Wildlife have seized 113 ironwoods that were felled and left to rot at Lakefield National Park and is investigating the matter.
Kalinga grazier Peter Trout said the logging had left hazards strewn across 10,000ha.
Up to four logging trucks a day left access roads ripped and rutted, creating clouds of bulldust that had station lessees concerned about the potential for run off into the Great Barrier Reef.
"I used to say 'imagine what will happen in the wet season, the roads will become a river," Kalinga grazier Mr Trout said.
"They are still running."
A Department of Environment spokeswoman said inquiries had begun "to determine if matters of national environmental significance have or are likely to be impacted by the alleged clearing at Kalinga Station."
Originally published as 'The trees were sacred': Ironbark felling causes clan rift