Forestry Corporation and Premier Berejiklian have ignored pleas to protect a mother and joey koala known to be in an area of Gladstone State Forest that is scheduled for logging, says the Bellingen Environment Centre
Logging of their habitat has started this week and Forestry Corporation has closed the forest so it can be done away from public scrutiny.
“We provided Forestry Corporation with evidence of the koalas,” a Bellingen Environment Centre spokesperson said. “The number of scats (koala poo pellets) found in the area was more than any of us had ever seen in one location. Their response is to create a ‘koala high use buffer’ of two hectares. The problem is, there is no high use area being buffered and there is no provision under the logging rules for a 'koala high use buffer'. They are making it up as usual, trying to give the impression they are doing something, but in reality doing nothing.”
A female koala has a home range of about 10 hectares. There are favourite trees that she goes to time and again. Even if logging leaves an area of two hectares, they'll be surrounded by devastation, and then the whole area will be burnt.
“It's like if you came out of your house and every other house as far as the eye can see, except the neighbours on either side, had been bulldozed. No shops, no schools, no services... how do you think you'd manage? Well that is what is planned for Gladstone's koalas,” said the BEC.
“Forestry Corporation's logging is clearly a significant reason koala populations on the north coast are in rapid decline,” said Susie Russell from the North Coast Environment Council
“Last year a review by the North East Forest Alliance of all current logging operations in north-east NSW identified that only 1.2 ha was specifically set aside for protection of koalas, in koala high use areas, out of the 22,586 ha of north-east NSW's public lands subject to logging operation..”
With such a small area set aside for koalas in state forests, it is evident that something is very wrong with the assessment and protection of koala habitat.
Meanwhile the environment minister does nothing, and the Environment Protection Authority is intent on introducing new logging rules that allow Forestry Corporation to do even less for koalas... if that is possible.
Environment groups are considering a further response to the commencement of logging operations.