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Stop Coal Seam Gas

Pilliga Forever


The Pilliga Forest is a truly iconic and precious place

The Pilliga is a vast expanse of bushland, located between Narrabri and Coonabarabran in western NSW. This iconic area of public land is under threat from the largest coal seam gas project ever proposed for New South Wales. Scroll down the page to read about this beautiful forest and the developments that threaten to destroy it...

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No other forest like it…

It is busy with trees, with animals and with men.
It is lonely and beautiful.
It is a million wild acres.
And there is no other forest like it

from Eric Rolls, ‘A Million Wild Acres’.

Listen to extensive audio interviews on the Pilliga here

View of the Pilliga Forest from Panton’s Lookout (Image: Hugh Nicholson)

The Pilliga is the largest forested area left west of the Great Divide, an amazing refuge area for wildlife that are in decline all around the state. This forest contains vital habitat for threatened species such as the Pilliga Mouse, Black-striped Wallaby, South-eastern Long-eared Bat, Barking Owl and Koala. It is a truly iconic and precious place, stretching across 1 million acres it bursts into flower in spring, carpeting the landscape with colour.

The vast forests of the Pilliga filter the waters that recharge our greatest inland water resource – some of the sweetest water that you will ever taste lies beneath the Pilliga sandstones in aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin.

It is a unique and diverse landscape – where tall stately ironbarks give way to sculpted sandstone outcrops, where broad sandy creeks cede their ground to ancient red gums, where emus saunter through spacious box woodlands and an extraordinary dawn chorus of birdsong rings out across the vivid flowering heath.

The Pilliga is full of colour – red soils, endless blue skies, bright green cypress, grey ironbark on jet black trunks, and flowers to paint the world with.There is nothing else like it – so vast you can see it from space, so exceptional that it has become a place of myth and mystery, an icon of the Australian bush. Find out more about the natural values of the Pilliga Forest here.

Scribbly Gum Forest (Image: Hugh Nicholson)

Now the Pilliga is under threat from the largest coal seam gas project ever proposed for New South Wales.

Gas company Santos has plans for a gas project that would drill 1,100 coal seam gas wells, clear 1,000km of pipelines and spread out across 850 square kilometres of forest in the Pilliga. It would involve wells drilled on a massive grid, every 500m, as well as access tracks, pipelines, water treatment facilities and compression plants.
The project, if approved, will be linked by regional pipelines either to a new gas export facility at Newcastle or an existing export facility at Gladstone in Queensland. Once these pipelines are in place, they will undoubtedly open up the entire north-west of NSW to rapid coal seam gas development. Read more about the proposed coal seam gas project here.

The Santos project would change the Pilliga forever, transforming it from our most intact bushland remnant into a gigantic industrial zone.

Satellite view of the Pilliga showing extent of proposed gas field

The major impacts of the project, should it proceed, would be

  •  Clearing of at least 2,400 hectares of bush and fragmentation of 850 square kilometres
  •  Loss and fragmentation of habitat for up to 15 nationally threatened species and 48 species that are threatened in   NSW.
  •  Increased feral pest and predator invasion and spread of noxious weeds
  •  Likely draw-down and contamination of groundwater systems, including the Great Artesian Basin
  •  Potential pollution of surface water from saline water extracted from coal seams
  •  Production of large quantities of concentrated brine as a waste product
  •  Dramatically increased risk of catastrophic fire in a landscape that is already extremely fire prone

Pilot coal seam gas production in the Pilliga Forest (Image: Tony Pickard)

A big thank you to Michael Moriarty for website design and all those who contributed images to the site.
Slideshow image credits: Wildflowers, Sandstone Outcrop, Scribbly Gum Forest- Anthony O’Halloran; Bloodwood Forest & Frog-Hugh Nicholson; Bat & Pygmy Possum- Phil Spark; Dry Creekbed-Boudicca Cerese.