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Pilliga Forest

The beauty, vibrant life and delicate ecosystems of the Pilliga are being compromised by the ever-expanding coal seam gas industry. If we don't act now, this crucial piece of Australia's bush could be lost forever.

Why it's important

The Pilliga Woodland is the largest and most intact temperate eucalypt woodland in eastern Australia. Stretching across half a million hectares in north-western New South Wales, the Pilliga is a unique ecological refuge in a heavily cleared agricultural belt. It is home to many woodland species struggling to survive, including glossy-black cockatoos, barking owls, eastern pygmy possums, koalas, red-capped robins, regent honeyeaters and the unique Pilliga mouse. All up, 25 nationally listed and 48 state listed threatened species rely on the Pilliga for survival.
 
The Pilliga is a vital recharge area for the Great Artesian Basin – the lifeblood of farmers and wildlife alike. 

The area is also very significant for its Indigenous heritage. The local Gomilaroi (Gomeroi or Gamilaraay) have a strong connection to the Pilliga landscape and the thousands of cultural sites, native plants and animals within the forest.


The threat

IMAGE: Coal Seal Gas (CSG) in the Pilliga | High Nicholson

Up to 850 coal seam gas wells are planned by Santos across the Pilliga – threatening to industrialise this habitat refuge.
 
Already, the impacts of the first 92 exploration gas wells have directly destroyed over 200 hectares of forest through clearing, and creeping kill zones caused by toxic spills and salty brine. Drilling activities have heavily fragmented at least 1,700 hectares of forest. High salinity, heavy metal and petrochemical pollution events are ongoing, and wildlife has been found dead in many of the toxic drill ponds. Santos has been fined for uranium and heavy metal contamination of groundwater aquifers in the region.
 
The rivers and creeks of the Pilliga flow into the Murray Darling Basin – putting this vital water resource at risk from the ongoing pollution of heavy metals, salts and drilling fluids. This gas project also puts the farms that depend on the water at risk. A major gas production operation in the Pilliga will also severely increase fire risks. Real questions should be asked about its placement in such a fire-prone area. 
 
In 2015, the global community agreed that we must keep global temperatures from warming to 2℃ – and aim for 1.5℃. To have any chance of achieving this, we need to keep this gas in the ground.
 

What we're doing about it

IMAGE: Volunteers in the Pilliga | Odette Lawler
We're supporting the community, volunteer researchers and others to ensure the Pilliga is one forest that will not be left open for coal seam gas destruction.
 
We are also working closely with many rural communities in New South Wales by helping build up the capacity of grassroots action groups to get active against coal seam gas in the Pilliga.
 
We'll know we've won when the Pilliga threatened species habitat is protected, the recharge zone of Great Artesian Basin is pollution-free, this important koala habitat is protected, the first massive coal seam gas project is stopped, pipelines to export terminals are not built and locals can be sure about their futures and livelihoods.
 

IMAGE: Goanna, Pilliga | Hugh Nicholson

How you can help

You can help us protect the Pilliga Forest in many different ways.

  1. Volunteer!
  2. Call or write to NSW Premier Mike Baird and tell him you don't approve of Santos plans to drill for coal seam gas in the Pilliga Forest:
    – Go to the online contact form 
    – Give him a nudge on Twitter or Facebook
  3. If you own shares in Santos (you might be an investor through your superannuation fund), keep up-to-date with the Santos Corporate Campaign, and please read and share the North West Alliance's Five Reasons Why Santos Should Desist from the Narrabri Gas Project.