Greens Forests spokesperson, Dawn Walker, has called for an urgent suspension of logging operations in Buckra Bendinni State Forest, near Nambucca Heads, due to concerns about impacts on the koala population.
“Buckra Bendinni State Forest in the Nambucca River headwaters is core koala habitat and Forestry Corporation’s logging operations in the area need to be immediately suspended until a proper assessment of the local koala population can be conducted,” Ms Walker said.
“Locals report that this area is home to a well-documented koala population and contains mature tallowwood and grey gums, which are preferred koala food trees and also tree species harvested by Forestry Corps’ logging operations.
“NSW Forestry Corporation should not consider industrial scale logging in the Buckra Bendinni State Forest without first conducting a proper assessment of the impacts that previous and new logging operations will have on the local koala population.
“Logging should immediately cease in the Buckra Bendinni State Forest and it should become part of a new Great Koala National Park, as the community and the Greens have been calling for over many years.
“Koala populations across NSW have declined by over 30 per cent during the past 15-20 years, and by 50 per cent on the North Coast, primarily because of habitat loss and fragmentation. Unless urgent action is taken and short-sighted logging operations like this stop, this government risks presiding over the extinction of koalas in NSW.”
For its part, Forestry Corporation of NSW explained its activities in the Buckra Bendinni State Forest.
“Forestry Corporation will use what’s known as single tree selection, which is a routine method where selected individual trees are harvested for timber and a large portion of the harvest area is left standing as wildlife habitat and for future timber production, in addition to the 70 per cent of the area that will not be touched,” a spokesperson said.
“Forestry Corporation is passionate about protecting threatened species and highly qualified and experienced foresters and ecologists spent many months before we touched a single tree in Buckra Bendinni State Forest, completing detailed environmental surveys and marking with GPS accuracy precisely where koalas and threatened species have been found so that their habitat is protected during operations.
“Around 70 per cent of the area we are working in will not be touched in this operation and we will be leaving preferred koala trees untouched throughout the area we are working in to maintain a continuous corridor of koala feed trees across the landscape.
“This process is completely transparent – we publish all our plans on our website, we are audited by the Environment Protection Authority and we are independently certified to the internationally-recognised Australian Standard for Sustainable Forest Management.
“The areas of state forest that are available for harvesting make up just four per cent of the 23 million hectares of forested land in NSW and these forests are critical for providing renewable regrowth timber for our local industry while also continuing to support significant koala populations. This is a result of many years of well managed, sustainable forestry practices.
“Timber harvesting in NSW is carefully managed to ensure state forests continue to produce a sustainable supply of timber while supporting thriving populations of native species, which are consistently found throughout state forests. Recent research by the Department of Industry – Lands in Northern NSW has recorded koalas living in and around areas of state forest where harvesting has occurred both recently and historically, indicating koalas continue to use forests that are harvested for timber.”