The very survival of the North Coast's koalas is threatened by proposed increases in logging intensity and imminent extensions of timber contracts, according to analysis presented to the meeting of the North East Forest Alliance held over the weekend near Stuart's Point.
“In order to meet current wood supply contracts, the NSW Government plans to zone most of the coastal State Forests for intensive logging and clearfelling, and to remove the already inadequate protection for core Koala habitat.
“Our analysis shows that of the 6,000 records of Koalas on State Forest in north-east NSW, 92% of them are in the 57% of forests proposed to be zoned for intensified logging, with the highest Koala densities in the 140,000 ha of State Forests proposed to be zoned to allow virtual clearfelling.
Dead koala found in Koreelah State Forest not long after logging
"Areas of State Forests found in study after study to be core Koala habitat, such as in Pine Creek, Royal Camp and Carwong, are intended to be zoned for intensified logging and committed in contracts to the industry,” said NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh.
“Already an intensification of logging, which the EPA3 describe as "not consistent" with the laws governing logging is occurring.
"The intensification of logging and reduction in protections for threatened species, such as Koalas, are being driven by 25 year wood supply contracts first signed in 1998.
“Since then the committed volumes of large sawlogs have had to be reduced by 47% because of the Forestry Corporation's grossly inflated resource estimations. NSW taxpayers have paid loggers at least $13 million in compensation for non-existent timber they were given for free, and millions more buying timber from private land to supplement supplies.
“Over that time, Koala populations on the north-coast have crashed by 50%1. Their demise is one of the costs of logging,” Mr Pugh said.
“According to the NSW Government Forest Industry Roadmap2 the Government began negotiating new wood supply contracts late last year and intend to finalise them by the middle of this year, even though most don't expire until 2023 and the biggest one, to BORAL, doesn't expire until 2028.
“We can't afford more of the same. New timber contracts covering core Koala habitat will signal the end for NSW Koalas,” said Susie Russell, North Coast Environment Council spokesperson.
“If the people of NSW want koalas to exist in the wild, then our Government will have to stop giving their feed trees and homes to the loggers. It's pretty simple really.
“We call on the Premier Gladys Berejiklian to give a commitment that the Forestry Corporation will not be allowed to intensify logging in coastal forests and for her to give an assurance that trees and habitat needed by koalas will be excluded from logging, deducted from timber calculations and removed from contracts,” Ms Russell said.
1. McAlpine, C, Melzer, A, Lunney, D, Foley, B, Adams-Hosking, C, Lawler, I, Whisson, D, Phillips, S, Kavanagh, R, Baxter, G, Gordon, G, et al. (2014). Working Group Workshop - Conserving koalas in the 21st century: synthesising the dynamics of Australia's koala populations. Australian Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. http://www.aceas.org.au/conserving_koalas_report.pdf
2. NSW Industry Roadmap, p10. http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/669806/NSW-Forestry-Industry-Roadmap.pdf
3. Letter from Gary Whytcross Director South and Forestry, Environmental Protection Authority on behalf of Minister for the Environment, the Hon Mark Speakman SC MP to Ms Orrego of Nambucca Valley Conservation Association May 5 2016.