Plea to Environment Minister to stop Forestry Corporation causing ‘serious and irreversible harm’

MEDIA RELEASE 11 January 2022

NEFA have called upon the new environment Minister, James Griffin, to fulfil his responsibilities and immediately implement the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) minimalist recommendations to reduce the risks of logging compounding the massive impacts of the 2019-20 fires, including on Koalas.

It is now over 6 months since the NRC advised the Ministers for Environment and Foresty to immediately tell the Forestry Corporation to implement their recommendations, until the logging rules were changed, NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.

“It is back to business as usual, as the Forestry Corporation rampage through forests knowingly and intentionally causing serious and irreversible harm to forests and species severely affected by the 2019-20 fires, while Ministers refuse to do their duty and stop Forestry’s excesses.

“NRC recommended that logging stop immediately in Taree Management Area because of the extreme risk logging would cause serious and irreversible harm, a month later Forestry started logging the only unburnt State Forest (Yarratt) and they are still at it.

“In burnt parts of the Casino Management Area the NRC recommend that Forestry protect some unburnt and lightly burnt forests in temporary Fire Offsets for 3 years post-fire,

“Additionally, because of the widespread burning of hollow-bearing trees, the NRC recommended the retention of additional mature trees where there are less than 8 hollow-bearing trees per hectare remaining, and the retention of the next 16 `largest (recruitment) trees per hectare as potential future hollow-bearing trees.

“Camira State Forest (near Whiporie) is the only one where Forestry have pretended to comply, though as proof they are bereft of any shred of ecological integrity they have put aside the most heavily burnt and logged areas in Fire Offsets, while intending to log most of the 4% of the forest that escaped the worst of the fires.

“On Sunday I undertook a preliminary inspection of part of Camira’s 50 ha patch of unburnt and lightly burnt forests and identified numerous trees with Koala scratches and scats, proving that it is indeed a Koala fire refuge and should have been protected.

“Worse still the Forestry Corporation have re-released their 2019 logging plan for the Koala hotspot of compartments 6 and 7 Braemar SF, and their 2020 logging plan for Myrtle SF, without any attempt what-so-ever to apply the NRC recommendations.

“Since the fires NEFA have undertaken surveys to identify places where Koalas survived the fires in Braemar and Myrtle State Forests, which are now proposed for logging instead of protection as Fire Offsets.

“Some 75% of the already depleted Koalas in the Banyabba Area of Regional Koala Significance, covering the Richmond lowlands, were killed in the 2019-20 fires, along with tens of thousands of Koala feed trees.

“And now the Forestry Corporation are intent on attacking Koalas and their feed trees in their remaining refuges.

“NEFA have provided details of these failures to implement the NRC recommendations to Minister Griffin and implored him to please fulfil his responsibilities and take action to stop causing serious and irreversible harm to forests and koalas.

“Taking action to protect the ecological values of public forests is clearly in the public’s best interest, the Minister must act urgently”, Mr. Pugh said.

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