NSW Upper House MP for the Animal Justice Party, Mark Pearson, will visit Bellingen this month to launch the proposal of a new nature reserve for the Mid North Coast.
The reserve proposal encompasses the entirety of the Upper Kalang River headwaters, the Bellinger River catchment and part of the Nambucca River catchment. Within this reserve proposal is all of Buckrabendinni, Roses Creek and Oakes State Forests and part of Diehappy, Irishman and Scotchman State Forests.
Mr Pearson will launch the Headwaters Conservation Proposal on behalf of community group Friends of Kalang Headwaters on Saturday November 28 at Bellinger Valley Lodge from 12-2pm.
"I'm thrilled to be part of this momentous event and lend my voice to such a vital project," Mr Pearson said ahead of the launch.
"Friends of Kalang Headwaters have really got it right: we need to protect forests for all the animals who call them home. Koalas in particular need all the friends they can get right now, particularly on the mid-north coast where a third were killed by the Black Summer bushfires."
In October last year, Bellingen council voted to support the Headwaters Nature Reserve proposal, with a motion that noted the impact of the Bees Nest fire on habitat and biodiversity, acknowledged the crucial role the Kalang Headwaters area plays in water security, and mentioned the community campaign protesting Forestry Corporation's plans to log the area.
Kevin Evans, a board member of connectivity conservation group Great Eastern Ranges Ltd and President of the Coffs Coast Branch of the National Parks Association of NSW said at the council meeting that the proposed reserve "dovetails perfectly" with the concept of the Great Koala National Park and the boom in nature-based tourism on the Mid North Coast.
The Headwaters contain one of Australia's most important and intact koala populations.
Earlier this year, Mr Pearson sat as Deputy Chair of a parliamentary inquiry into koala populations and habitat in NSW.
The inquiry found koalas could be extinct in NSW before 2050 and made 42 recommendations to government, including creating new national parks and ruling out logging of trees in old growth forests.
"Especially after the bushfires, we must protect the forests we have left," Mr Pearson said.
"That's what our recent parliamentary koala inquiry really made clear, and it's exactly what Friends of Kalang Headwaters are hoping to achieve."
Earlier this year, Mr Pearson became a member of Friends of Kalang Headwaters, a group encompassing members from the Bellingen Environment Centre, National Parks Association of NSW and local residents and businesses.
The group's reserve proposal encompasses forests of the Upper Kalang, Middle Bellinger and Nambucca Rivers that are currently public land.
Friends of the Kalang Headwaters want to ensure permanent protection of the forests via formal conservation status.
More information about the proposal can be found here:
Other attendees include NSW MPs David Shoebridge (Greens) and Marjorie O'Neill (Labor, Coogee) Bellingen Shire Mayor Dominic King as well as councillors and community members from across the region.
Numbers are limited to 30 due to COVID-19 restrictions.