18/02/22: Camira State Forest - Dalian Pugh Leads Search for Endangered Koalas
This week around a dozen Fridays4Forests protectors met in Camira State Forest (west of the Summerland Way, between Casino and Grafton) with renowned environmentalist and President of the North East Forest Alliance, Dailan Pugh (OAM) to follow up on his work there surveying for our endangered koalas. Dailan has been studying the unburnt section of Camira which is imminently threatened with logging and found considerable evidence of a significant koala colony there.
INTERVIEWER: Okay Dailan, we're hearing Camira state forests between the Casino and Grafton, can you give us a bit of an understanding of what's going on here,
DAILAN: Camira certainly was one of the ones that was badly affected in the fires in 2019-20. And most of the forest was burnt, there was one patch of about 50 hectares, that was lightly burned, or even some parts escaped the burning. What they're saying they're doing now with the logging is avoiding the lightly burnt areas and protecting those, at least for three years after the fire. Yet, what they're doing here is they've put aside as a fire offset the most heavily burnt and most recently logged area, and they're saying that's what they're going to protect for all those species that survived the fires, give them the worst in the forest, whereas they're meant to be protecting the best bits.
I've been in here looking for the best bits and, lo and behold, I found a colony of koalas in there. Quite a few trees with koala scats, a lot of trees with koala scratches. We do have a fire refuge here, for koalas in the areas that were least heavily burnt and in the most heavily burnt forest around here, the koalas just got obliterated. It's a lightly burned area and the unburnt areas is where the koalas are hanging in and we need those areas to repopulate the rest of the forest. That will happen over time but that's gonna take decades for the koala population to recover.
Given that they're meant to be protecting the least burnt and unburnt areas, what we've done is we've written to the Minister for the Environment, who was advised back in June last year, that he should be putting those places aside, you should tell forestry to do so, and yet he won't do it and neither will the forest minister. They've got that advice and they won't follow it through. So we're trying to highlight that
I've written to the minister saying, Well, look, here you go here's an example, there's lots of others, of an area that should be being protected now. That's what the minimal requirements of the Natural Resources Commission assessment said, why aren't you doing it? So we're trying to highlight why they should do it? We're trying to say, 'Well, look, here we go. Here's an area like this, its got koalas in it, this koala refuge area is vitally important to protect the future of koalas rather than really heavily trashed forest as they have.
INTERVIEWER: What can people out there who might be watching this or listening to this do help to support you in that?
DAILAN: Well, we need people to stand up for koalas. So right throughout this region, you know, the Richmond lowlands which Camira is part of, is really important for koalas. There are koalas widespread throughout these forests, it's one of most heavily impacted by the fires, you've probably lost over 80% of the koalas in these forests in the fires and the survivors need a chance to recover. They don't need forestry to come in, take out their remaining feed trees, and that's what's happening. They're targeting their feed trees for logging, and there's only so much a koala can bear.
We need people to publilcise the issue, talk to people about it, make it a public issue, that we can't go on logging koala habitat. They're now endangered. The reason they're endangered is because we keep on destroying their habitat. Habitat is the most important thing for them. People can also write to the minister themselves, but the main thing is just making a fuss, getting it to the public's attention, letting the public know what's going on, the rest of the community. So whatever you can do to publicize the plight of the koalas and the need to not log their habitat.
Not to take out the remaining feed trees that's the message we need to get across.”