Outcomes of a recent study by the Environmental Protection Authority prove that Koalas have a significant preference for larger trees and more mature forest, with Koala populations found to be collapsing in recently logged areas.
“The Government now has the evidence that logging is bad for Koalas and needs to take immediate action to identify and protect the remaining Koala colonies that are in public forests threatened by logging. Every day that the Forestry Corporation is allowed to go on logging Koala's preferred feed trees brings them closer to extinction. It has to stop now. We call on Premier Mike Baird to urgently intervene to save NSW's Koalas", said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
The EPA assessed Koala populations in four north coast State Forests, finding that higher Koala activity is "positively correlated with greater abundance and diversity of local koala feed trees, trees and forest structure of a more mature size class, and areas of least disturbance". They found that where there had been limited recent logging in Royal Camp and Carwong State Forests there was high Koala occupancy and that these are source areas where Koala numbers are increasing. They found that heavy logging and burning of what should have been high quality Koala habitat in Clouds Creek and Maria River State Forests has resulted in low Koala occupancy and that Koala numbers appear to be declining.
"NEFA had to intervene to stop the Forestry Corporation illegally logging Koala High Use Areas in Royal Camp State Forest (south-west of Casino) in 2012, and again in 2013 when they tried to resume logging",
"It became evident that we had come across an exceptionally important area for Koalas, but were too late to stop half of it being logged. We proposed to the then Environment Minister, Rob Stokes, that Royal Camp and Carwong State Forests be permanently protected from logging as a National Park.
"The EPA considered that Carwong had the highest Koala occupancy of any assessed area because it had escaped both wildfire and logging for 20 years.
"Conversely Clouds Creek State Forest (south of Grafton, west of Coffs Harbour) should have had the highest quality habitat, but was found to have the lowest Koala occupancy. The EPA attributed this to the high degree of disturbance by logging and fire. They considered it was now likely to be sink habitat where Koalas would continue to decline.
"This is yet more evidence that logging is bad for Koalas because it targets the larger trees they need to maintain healthy populations, and that their populations are collapsing in our public forests under the intensified logging now being practiced.
"The Minister for the Environment, Mark Speakman, has sat on his hands and done nothing for too long while the Forestry Corporation continue to rampage through Koala habitat. The Government can no longer claim ignorance. Premier Mike Baird must intervene to save NSW's Koalas.
"A good start would be removing Royal Camp and Carwong from the logging schedules and making them into a national park" Mr. Pugh said.
For more information on the EPA study click here.