A number of groups appearing before today's NSW Legislative Council inquiry into Koala populations and habitat in New South Wales have requested the committee actively call on the NSW Government to put in place a moratorium on logging koala habitat across public and private lands as an emergency response to the loss of thousands of Koalas and their habitat due to wildfires.
As of yesterday, since July wild fires have burnt out over 1.6 million hectares of the north east NSW bioregion (north from the Hunter River and westward to the Great Escarpment ), this represents 28% of the region and 39% of native vegetation, said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
Government must help Koalas suffering severe dehydration from Busbys Flat fire
MEDIA RELEASE - 1 November 2019
NEFA is again requesting that the NSW Government provide urgent assistance for surviving Koalas affected by the Busby's Flat fire in light of its findings that many of the survivors are suffering severe dehydration and unlikely to survive without help.
It is now over 3 weeks since the Busby's Flat fire burnt out an extensive Koala population on the Richmond River lowlands identified of regional significance, yet the NSW Government refuses to provide Koalas with urgently needed assistance, NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
Koala killed by the Rappville fire in Carwong State Forest October 2019
Koala Inquiry call for Koala Rescue Welcomed
MEDIA RELEASE - 20 October 2019
The North East Forest Alliance has welcomed the urgent request by the Legislative Council’s Koala Inquiry to the NSW Premier to allow Koala carers into Braemer, Carwong and Royal Camp State Forests to rescue koalas that have survived the fires.
Though the scale of the problem, and the Government's refusal to do anything to rescue Koalas for the past 12 days. demands Government assistance, according to NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
Extent of Busby's Creek Fire 19 October, with Koala recordsRead more
The future of Koalas is to be the focus of a parliamentary Upper House 'Inquiry into koala populations and habitat in New South Wales' and a demonstration in Ballina on Friday.
There will be a wake for Koalas staged outside the Ballina RSL from 8.30 am on Friday morning, 18 October 2019, with the hearing due to start at 9.30 am.
"Conservationists have made detailed submissions, and will be presenting evidence, to the inquiry though believe that wild Koalas can only be saved from extinction if there is a seismic shift in Government attitudes", NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
"With a 50% decline in north coast Koala populations over the past 20 years the NSW Government must show compassion and act urgently to protect remaining Koala colonies.
"Its quite simple, if we want to save Koalas then the first thing to do is to protect and rehabilitate their homes.
This Koala survived the fires but isn't looking too good and the leaves in the tree are desiccated. Photo D. Pugh
The Busbys Flat fire south of Casino has burnt through one of the most important Koala colonies on the north-coast in Braemar, Carwong and Royal Camp State Forests, according to the North East Forest Alliance.
NEFA estimate that some 350-700 Koalas inhabit these State Forests, with many likely to have been directly affected by fire and smoke, and many more affected by the loss of browse, according to NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
"The most urgent need is for a search and rescue operation for fire affected Koalas.
"Koalas were already suffering from the drought, and are now likely to have been significantly impacted by these fires. It will take years for Koalas to recover.
"NEFA calls upon the NSW Government to abandon its imminent plans to log some of the best Koala habitat in Braemar State Forest. The resident Koalas are likely to have been severely affected by the fire, and suitable browse will be in short supply for months to come, the last thing they need is for the Forestry Corporation to log their surviving feed trees.
"The Environment Protection Authority undertook systematic Koala surveys in Royal Camp and Carwong State Forests in 2015, surely the first step needs to be to reassess those areas to identify how this population has been affected.
"NEFA has also amassed abundant data on Braemar's Koalas to contribute to any post-fire review.
"The danger is that if the Forestry Corporation blunders in there now it could be the death knell of this nationally significant Koala population", Mr. Pugh said.
Right to Farm bill a covert means of criminalising forest protests
MEDIA RELEASE - 25 September 2019
The North East Forest Alliance has slammed the Right to Farm Bill 2019 now before the NSW parliament as a covert attack on the rights to peacefully protest or even audit forestry operations on public lands.Read more
NEFA is calling on the NSW Government to comply with their own Koala Strategy by creating a Koala national park covering exceptional Koala habitat in Braemar, Carwong and Royal Camp State Forests, south of Casino.
NEFA's searches have proven that these public forests contain exceptional densities of Koalas, unparalleled in any of the Forestry Corporation's searches over the past 20 years, according to NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
When announcing the NSW Government's Koala Strategy on 7th May 2018 their press release stated:
The centerpiece of the NSW Koala Strategy is setting aside large swathes of land where koalas can thrive and new habitats can be created.
“It is absolutely vital that we protect land where koalas currently live - and secure land where new koala colonies may exist in the future,” said Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton.
"In 2014 NEFA proposed the Sandy Creek National Park covering Carwong and Royal Camp State Forests after EPA investigations confirmed they contain a Koala population of regional and national significance.
"Now it is evident that Braemar is a key part of this population.
"The evidence of the outstanding importance of these forests for Koalas is beyond doubt.
"If the NSW Government wants to give the Koalas of the Richmond lowlands a future it is absolutely vital that they fully protect all identified core Koala habitat in Braemar, Carwong and Royal Camp State Forests from further degradation.
"As these forests recover from past logging so too will Koalas. With Koalas coming under increasing threat from droughts, heatwaves and bushfires it is essential that we give them the best chance we can to withstand climate heating.
"We challenge the Forestry Corporation to identify any area they have found in their past 20 years of undertaking Koala scat searches across NSW that has a higher density or more extensive scats than we have so far found in Braemar", Mr. Pugh said.
For further information see: https://www.nefa.org.au/audits
The North East Forest Alliance has welcomed the postponement of logging of core Koala habitat in Braemar State Forest as an opportunity for the community to increase pressure on the NSW Government to protect extant populations of Koalas.
"We hope our rally on Sunday today sent a strong message to the Government that this community does not want to see our best Koala habitat on public lands devastated, even though the new logging rules allow it", NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
"This logging delay gives the community more time to speak up for Koalas and convince the NSW Government that they need to protect core Koala habitat to stop their extinction
"Logging was due to start on Friday 13 September though has been delayed for weeks after a review by NEFA exposed numerous deficiencies in the Forestry Corporation's harvesting plan.
"This is the first area to be logged under the new logging rules in north-east NSW, and despite the Forestry Corporation writing the new rules with the EPA, they proved that they are still unwilling to comply with the intent and letter of their own rules.
"It is reprehensible that the Government has removed protection for Koala high use areas, of which there is estimated to be over 100ha in Braemar State Forest. They have replaced this prohibition with the retention of just 5 small feed trees per hectare.
"NEFA has found that Koalas are using over 19 feed trees per hectare in Braemar.
"From their surveys in the adjacent Carwong and Royal Camp State Forests the EPA found that Koala use increased with tree size and that only one in five of the small (>20cm diameter) feed trees now required to be retained were actually used by Koalas.
"This nationally significant Koala population will be devastated by the new logging rules.
"This case highlights the need for the NSW Government to restore protection for Koala high use areas, not just in Braemar but wherever they occur.
"As identified by the EPA's own Koala expert panel if we want to give Koalas a future the highest priority is to protected extant Koala populations from logging " Mr Pugh said.
With logging due to start on Friday 13th NEFA are calling on the community to voice their opposition to logging of core Koala habitat in Braemar State Forest.
NEFA undertook its third Koala assessment of Braemar State Forest last weekend and again found abundant Koala scats, reaffirming that it is one of the most significant Koala populations known on State Forests, according to NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
"We now estimate that there are over 100ha of Koala High Use Areas, which is unprecedented on State Forests. Over the past 20 years, across the hundreds of thousands of hectares they logged, the Forestry Corporation only found a total of 200ha of small scattered Koala High Use Areas"
"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.
Photos: Trees formerly marked for retention have been re-marked as available for logging. Under this one, a large number of koala scats were found. Under another tree that had similarly been re-marked, scats were found of a mother koala and joey.Read more
Following NEFA's finding last Sunday of an exceptional Koala population in Braemar State Forest, south of Casino, NEFA is calling on the Premier to intervene to ensure that the required thorough searches for Koalas are undertaken and all Koala High Use Areas protected.
Koala scats were found under 42 trees in a 3ha area of Braemar State Forest marked up for logging, 81 Koala scats were found under this single tree where none had been found by the Forestry Corporation.Read more