The 2019-2020 wildfires burn out 2.4 million hectares of north-east NSW (north from the Hunter River), burning through around half the remnant native vegetation. These fires were unusually extensive and intensive because of record low rainfalls and extreme temperatures. The Spotted Gum forests of the Richmond River Lowlands, and the Koalas that inhabit them, were amongst the worst affected in north-east NSW.
NEFA have focussed our post-fire monitoring on 7,000 hectares of State forests south of Casino we had identified as core Koala habitat before the fires and are proposing as the Sandy Creek Koala Park. It has been devastating to watch as 90%of Koalas have been lost from these firegrounds while the Government did nothing to help the survivors.
This is part of the Banyabba Koala population, covering lowland forests from the Richmond Range through to Iluka on the coast, and from Lawrence on the Clarence River north to Mongogarie, south of Casino. Across this area 70,000 hectares has been identified as 'highly suitable koala habitat ... likely to be occupied by koalas' by the Government.
These forests have been burning since August, culminating in the Busbys Flat fire and then the Myall Creek fire, burning through 60,000 ha (84%) of this 'highly suitable koala habitat'.
Within this area there are core source areas, with breeding colonies of Koalas that are vital for maintaining the viability of the population. NEFA have identified these in parts of Royal Camp, Carwong and Braemar State Forests, another has been identified near Ashby.
You can read the very sad outcomes of this work in the report: The Demise of Banyabba Koalas
The latest Koala survey revealed a Koala! and more high use koala trees, bringing the total now to 67. This assessment both confirms the outstanding significance of Braemar and the likelihood that over 100ha (>54%) of the 185ha 'Potential Net Harvesting Area' are likely to qualify as Koala High Use Areas under the previous IFOA rules and thus would have had logging excluded.
You can read the full report here- Braemar Supplementary Audit 3
Ongoing citizen science works at Braemar shows that the Koala population there is one of the most significant identified in a State Forest.
Our surveys have so far identified 134 trees with Koala scats beneath them, including 53 high use trees. Until recently the requirement was to undertake intensive surveys within 100m of high use
trees to delineate high use areas to exclude from logging. We have identified 56ha of potential Koala High Use Areas and expect over 100ha to be present. This is the most extensive area found on State Forests.
Braemar encompasses core breeding habitat that is part of the nationally significant Koala population previously identified across the nearby Carwong and Royal Camp State Forests. The logging area is likely to support 60-90 Koalas, which represents an important source area for this population.
You can read the latest report on the surveys here.
Trees formerly marked for retention have been re-marked as available for logging. Under this one a large number of koala scats were found. Another tree that had been re-marked had scats from a mother and baby koala.
To read the Supplementary Audit report click here.
On 28 July NEFA located part of a nationally significant Koala population in part of Braemar State Forest scheduled for logging this month. It is part of a larger population that NEFA had previously identified in Royal Camp and Carwong State Forests in 2012 and 2013, which, at the then Environment Minister's request, had been verified by the EPA as being of national significance.
NEFA identified part of an extensive Koala High Use Area (HUA) marked-up for logging. The harvesting plan, and marking-up, showed it was going to be logged under the old IFOA logging rules which required the identification and protection of Koala HUAs. Our appeal to Premier Gladys Berejiklian to intervene to protect Braemar's Koalas was in vain.
Far from identifying and protecting Koala HUAs the Government now intends to log it under Premier Berejiklian's new Coastal IFOA logging rules, which remove the protection for Koala HUAs and require that nothing specifically be done to mitigate impacts on Koalas in this area.
NEFA returned on 8 August to further assess the distribution of Koalas in the proposed logging area, identifying that the Koala HUA likely extends over 24 hectares, that other Koala HUAs are likely to be present, and that outside Koala HUAs Koalas are widespread but limited by the low numbers and diversity of feed trees due to previous logging.
It is not acceptable for the Forestry Corporation to be allowed to rampage through a nationally significant Koala population. As his predecessor did, the Environment Minister Matt Kean must intervene to ensure Braemar's Koalas are fully assessed and adequately protected.
To read the Supplementary Audit report click here.
A NEFA inspection of compartments 23 and 24 of Braemar State Forest on Sunday 28 July
located an extensive Koala High Use Area in an area marked up for imminent logging by the
Forestry Corporation. There is no evidence of the required thorough searches for Koalas
scats having been undertaken. It is clear that the Forestry Corporation are once again
intending to log important Koala habitat in blatant contravention of their Threatened Species
Read the audit report here
81 Koala scats were found under this single tree where none had been found by the Forestry Corporation
Supplementary Audit of Gibberagee State Forest Compartment 104
Dailan Pugh, 25 February 2019.
This report is supplementary to NEFA's 'Preliminary Audit of Gibberagee SF Compartments 104, 105, and 106' which was provided to the Minister for the Environment and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) on 12 February 2019, along with a request to stop the illegal logging continuing. The legal breaches are detailed in that report.
Seasoned forest protectors assist Dailan Pugh OAM with Gibberagee State Fores audit.
You can read the full audit here: Supplementary Audit of Gibberagee State Forest Compartment 104
Preliminary Audit of Gibberagee SF
Compartments 104, 105, and 106
Dailan Pugh, February 2019, North East Forest Alliance
The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) have been undertaking systematic audits of Forestry Corporation logging operations over the past decade. Over that time we have identified hundreds of breaches of the Forestry Corporation's Threatened Species Licence, Environment Protection Licence and Fisheries Licence, with most of those investigated confirmed by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) or Fisheries NSW.
You can read the full audit report here: Preliminary Audit of Gibberagee SF Compartments 104, 105, and 106
Read the NEFA Report: For Whom the Bell Miners Toll
This report looks at the issue of the Key Threatening Process „Bell Miner Associated Dieback‟ (BMAD). This dieback has affected hundreds of thousands of hectares of NSW‟s forests from the Queensland border to the Victorian border. Millions of hectares of NSW‟s native forests are considered susceptible to this threat.