Kalang Headwaters: Biodiversity Hotspot

Since its Biodiversity Month we thought it was a good time to highlight the biodiversity hotspot that is Oakes State Forest in the Kalang headwaters. Oakes is found in the heart of Gumbaynggirr Country, west of Bellingen.

The proposed logging area is about 10km away from the 1992 Killiekranke protest site and many of the same values and underlying soil issues have not changed much in the 30 years since one of our regions great forest victories. While Catbird Road is now in the New England National Park - about 90% of the Kalang Headwaters still remains largely unprotected in State Forests.

The top of the logging area sits around Hawk Road at about 830m above sea level. Here, red soils and pumice tells us the volcanic origin of the area with massive old growth Brushbox and rainforest to the very top. Sadly this mapped disturbed old growth is within the current harvest area.

This area is gorgeous with an abundance of diversity - a known area for Sphagnum Frogs and Rufus Scrub-birds but the place is ruled by Lyrebirds. At this time of year, this piece of Gondwana is resplendent with flowering orchids. 

Lower down in the landscape, our community surveys have found an impressive list of threatened species including Yellow-Bellied Gliders, Greater Gliders and Parma Wallaby’s. The truffle eating Long Noised Potoroo and Spotted Quolls also calls the Kalang Headwaters home. The harvest area is a strong hold for the nationally endangered Personsia Dorrigoensis and critically endangered, Scrub Turpentine.

At the bottom of the logging compartments is lowland rainforest, a threatened ecological community where crystal-clear creeks and rivers cascade down into the valley through steep gullies. Here, massive rainforest trees like Black Booyong and Yellow Caribeen tower over the canopy along with White Beech or Galanga the Gumbaynggirr word from which Kalang gets its name. In this rainforest it's the endangered Giant Barred and Stuttering Frogs that rule the waterways.

The Kalang was not spared from the Black Summer bushfires, with the Andersons Creek Fire burning right to the river, within a few hundred meters of the proposed harvest area. We know how important these unburnt refuges are to our biodiversity, but sadly Forestry Corp is prioritising supply commitments over forest recovery.

We fight on and expect to have a presence in the forest full time once the lockdown is over! To keep up to date with happenings in the Headwaters please follow our Facebook Pages including Friends of Kalang Headwaters, Kalang River Forest Alliance and Bellingen Environment Centre.

Written by Jonas Bellchambers for the Kalang Headwaters.

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