Both the North Coast Environment Council (NCEC) and the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) are very concerned about the survival of Koalas on the North Coast. They regard the intensification of logging in State Forests with core koala habitat as a major threat.
The two conservation groups believe the current problem stemmed from the Forestry Corporation’s “grossly inflated resource estimates”. This led in 1998 to the signing of contracts which could not be fulfilled because there were insufficient saw logs to meet them. As a result NSW taxpayers have been forced to pay at least $13 million in compensation to logging companies.
This is bad enough but another result of the poor decision about the availability of the sawlog resource is that logging has been intensified in North Coast State Forests.
NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said, “Our analysis shows that of the 6,000 records of Koalas in State Forests in north-east NSW, 92% of them are in the 57% of forests proposed to be zoned for intensified logging, with the highest koala densities in the 140,000 ha of State Forests proposed to be zoned to allow virtual clearfelling.”
Mr Pugh pointed out that a 2014 study by C McAlpine et al has shown that koala populations on the North Coast have crashed by 50% and that this situation is one of the costs of logging.
The NSW Government is currently negotiating new wood supply contracts which they intend to finalise by the middle of this year – even though most of the existing contracts do not expire until 2023.
This is yet another concern. Susie Russell, NCEC spokesperson, says that we cannot afford more of the same. “New timber contracts covering core koala habitat will signal the end for NSW Koalas. If the people of NSW want Koalas to exist in the wild, then our Government will have to stop giving their feed trees and homes to the loggers. It’s pretty simple really.”
They have called on the Premier to ensure that logging in North Coast forests is not intensified and that habitat needed by Koalas will be excluded from logging.
This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on May 22, 2017.