The North East Forest Alliance is calling the Minister for the Environment's response to the ongoing demise of Koalas grossly inadequate in light of the Chief Scientist Mary O’Kane's conclusion that there are only 36,000 Koalas left in NSW and that their populations have declined by 26% in the past 15-21 years.
The Minister is saying that he will now spend $10 million over 5 years on private land conservation measures, including buying properties.
"As identified the Chief Scientist habitat loss and fragmentation are the biggest threats to coastal Koalas. Buying a few properties will in no way compensate for the 2.2 million hectares of identified Koala habitat to be opened up for clearing under the new vegetation rules" according to NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
"There is a lot more that the Minister should be doing but refuses to.
"Despite our entreaties the Minister has done nothing to avert the ongoing loss of Koala habitat through logging. The Environment Protection Agency's (EPAs) evidence is that Koalas avoid small trees as they prefer larger, older trees for food. These are the same trees being targeted by loggers.
"The Chief Scientist Mary O’Kane identifies that on public lands Koalas "require specific prescriptions to maintain key elements of their habitat in order for them to persist in harvested landscapes ... such as exclusion zones for areas where there is active and high use by koalas".
"NEFA had to intervene in 2012 to stop the Forestry Corporation logging Koala High Use Areas in Royal Camp State Forest. The problem was that the Forestry Corporation were not undertaking the legally required scat (faecal pellet) searches to identify and protect Koala High Use Areas".
"Time and time again we have reported cases to the Minister where scat searches are not being undertaken, yet he does nothing. The EPA repeatedly report that they too fail to find evidence of Koala scat searches but they do nothing.
"Of the 20,000 hectares of public forests logged each year only around 14 hectares is temporally excluded from logging for Koalas. This is equivalent to a single home range. It is no wonder Koala populations are crashing.
"It is likely that even less is protected on private land because there is no requirement to look before they log" Mr. Pugh said.
The Chief Scientist includes as a recommended priority (part of No 7) for the North Coast "identifying parcels of public land that support connectivity and/or are key to managing threats to populations so that they are managed for conservation values"
"Since NEFA identified Royal Camp and Carwong State Forests (south of Casino) as containing regionally significant Koala populations in 2012, numerous Government surveys have repeatedly confirmed our findings. Yet the Minister refuses to intervene and ensure it is protected".
"Similarly the National Parks Association's proposal for a Great Koala National Park west of Coffs Harbour has been ignored as logging continues within it unabated".
Another of the Chief Scientist's recommendations (No. 3) is that the "Government publish a state-wide predictive koala habitat map within three years of receipt of this report, with immediate priority given to improving coverage of the north coast". She states "This map will inform regional planning outcomes and local zoning decisions, guide conservation planning and inform on-ground recovery and restoration efforts".
"The EPA have spent $373,000 of public monies preparing a predictive map of Koala distribution which they finished in September, but they are refusing to release it because the Government won't allow them to".
"Minister Speakman must release his Koala habitat mapping immediately to enable better informed management of Koalas across both public and private lands. At the very least it should be being used now to target thorough pre-logging and pre-clearing investigations in the highest quality Koala habitat" Mr. Pugh said.
To see the chief scientists report go to