Posted by· December 03, 2023 8:59 PM
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The North East Forest Alliance is a volunteer organisation, none of us get paid. We have been working since 1989 to protect rainforest, oldgrowth forest, wilderness and threatened species in north-east NSW, Australia. Donations we receive go directly to cover costs, such as employing experts to undertake surveys for threatened species and legal challenges. Our recent court case challenging logging of Koala homes in Braemar and Myrtle State Forests cost us over $35,000. For those who gave so generously to assist our Federal Court action challenging the validity of the North East Regional Forest Agreement in March 2022, we were told to expect a judgement on that case in August 2023 and we are told its likely by the end of November. Should we win that case, the NSW Government's exemption from the Federal threatened species law (EPBC Act) will end and our challenge will be to make those laws effective in increasing protection for threatened species.
Use the DONATE button if you can help NEFA continue our work undertaking surveys, pursuing State and Federal governments through the courts, and achieving meaningful protection for threatened species.
NEFA TOOK THE FORESTRY CORPORATION TO COURT TO STOP THEM LOGGING KOALA HOMES
A victim of the 2019/20 wildfires, they are now logging the homes of the survivors
NEFA took the NSW Forestry Corporation to court in an effort to save the homes of Koalas, and 23 other threatened species, including the Southern Greater Glider, Yellow-bellied Glider, Rufous Bettong, Masked Owl and Squirrel Glider.
NEFA engaged the Environmental Defenders Office to commence legal proceedings in the Land and Environment Court to challenge the validity of the Forestry Corporation’s harvesting plans for compartments 6-7 of Braemar State Forest and 10-16 of Myrtle State Forest. These are situated in the Richmond River valley in north-east NSW. Our request for an injunction was heard on 2 August, and the judgement was handed down on 20 November 2023. Regrettably we lost that case, though we did manage to stop logging for almost four months. Now we are focusing on seeking political intervention.
These are identified Nationally Important Koala Areas that were devastated by the 2019/20 wildfires. The good news is that the Koala populations are slowly recovering. The bad news is that the Forestry Corporation intends to put a stop to that by logging over 70% of their feed trees.
In relation to Koalas, the new NSW Premier Chris Minns recently stated “protecting these iconic Australian animals is non-negotiable”. NEFA has attempted for years to negotiate for the protection of Koala homes, but successive governments have refused to listen, its been non-negotiable, leaving us with no alternative but to take the Forestry Corporation to court to try and stop their extinction operations.
In response to proposed logging operations, for years NEFA have been undertaking Koala surveys to identify where the most important Koala habitats are in the Richmond River valley. This has involved volunteers spending countless hours on their knees searching amongst leaf litter for, and counting, Koala scats (faecal pellets).
In 2012 and 2013 our findings of Koalas were successful in stopping logging in Royal Camp and Carwong State Forests, and Forestry being fined. Unfortunately, in 2018, despite two forest actions, we did not succeed in stopping logging of Koala homes in Gibberagee State Forest. In 2019 our findings of exceptional densities of Koalas in Braemar State Forest again stopped logging.
Based on our findings, we proposed 7,000 ha of these forests as the Sandy Creek Koala Park three years ago. Now we have undertaken a broader assessment Protecting the Southern Richmond and are recommending protection of 56,200 hectares of native vegetation on State forests in the southern Richmond River catchment and on the southern Richmond Range, principally to protect Endangered Koalas, though also for four Critically Endangered species, 38 other Endangered species and 89 Vulnerable species, along with an Endangered Emu Population.
These forests were badly burnt in the 2019/20 wildfires, killing over 70% of Koalas. After the fires, in 2020 our searches in Myrtle State Forest identified an important fire refuge, and aided by forest actions we again stopped logging.
It seems as if the Forestry Corporation waited for the election of the Minns Government to immediately propose logging in Braemar and Myrtle State Forests, without any Koala surveys.
We have shown that despite the fires, Koalas are recovering and present in both Braemar and Myrtle State forests. The proposed logging of over 70% of their feed trees, particularly in their fire refuges, now threatens their survival.
NEFA’s advocacy succeeded in stopping logging of these nationally important Koala habitats for years under the previous government, it is alarming that we had to resort to legal action to stop this government logging them given their pledge to protect Koalas. Now that the legal action failed we are focusing on asking Premier Chris Minns to intervene, as Penny Sharpe is unwilling to do so.
We have been asking the NSW Government for independent pre-logging surveys on State forests to identify and protect core Koala habitat and climate change refugia, and protection of Preferred Koala Feed Trees (select species >30 cm diameter) in linking habitat. Given our legal action has failed we need your help to make them listen.
While financial assistance would be welcomed, it would be great if you supported and promoted our proposal Protecting the Southern Richmond including by representations to NSW Premier Chris Minns. It is well past time these forests and their Koalas were protected.
A fire survivor in Braemar whose home is about to be logged
An Opportune Time.
NEFA welcomed the election of the new NSW Labor Government, given their commitment to a Great Koala National Park, and increased protection for Koalas. The fight for our forests is far from over. The new government refuses to place a moratorium over the Great Koala National Park while they undertake an assessment to see which parts of it they will include in reserves, which could take years. An emboldened Forestry Corporation continues to target the best Koala habitat for logging, including logging NEFA's proposed Sandy Creek Koala Park (see media for updates) until we stopped them in court.
Though the balance of power has shifted, the government is in minority in the Lower House, with 3 Greens and 9 other independents they can pick and chose who they need to support their legislation. In the Upper House they will have to rely upon the Greens and progressive independents to get their legislation passed. The Greens have made protecting forests one of their key asks. Many of the independents support ending logging of public native forests, but they need you to speak out, stand up and take action to help create the political opportunity.
Meanwhile the draconian changes to the logging rules made by the Nationals continue; they removed tree protections and now there is no requirement to leave larger trees that may one day form hollows and provide homes for the more than 170 species that need tree hollows to shelter, nest, den and breed. They lessened stream protections so there will be more erosion, siltation, sedimentation and downstream flooding. And they also removed requirements for pre-logging koala surveys, going back to the requirements of the 1990s that if a koala is in a tree, wait till it leaves before you cut it down! No recognition of koala home ranges, koala colonies or favorite trees. No wonder they are now endangered.
For forests outside the areas the government will allow to made into the Great Koala National Park, there is no reprieve under Labor. They have offered nothing to improve protections for threatened species, or waterways. Nothing about retaining the largest trees. Nothing about recognising that forests are the best carbon capture and storage technology we have. They have the power to begin change right now, but they refuse to.
We have a hard fight ahead of us to stop logging of public native forests, though we now have hope that with your help we can get there.
Here are some resources you can use:
We have edited the fantastic, and sadly still relevant Endangered Species Roadshow film - On the Brink, with cameos from world-renowned scientists David Attenborough, David Suzuki and David Bellamy and voice overs by Jack Thompson and Olivia Newton-John. You can watch it here.
Award-winning filmmaker David Bradbury has made this moving film, Gondwana, Going, Going...Gone? Featuring clips and interviews from some of the recent forest actions from across our region. You can watch it here.
Politicians and industry often make extraordinary claims about the significance and impact of logging. We have prepared responses to Frequently Asked Questions you can read here.
Electoral comment on this page, is authorised by D. Peterson, 11 Panorama Rd, Lismore.