Monday, 9 September 2019

COMMUNITY ASKED TO SPEAK OUT TO SAVE BRAEMAR'S KOALAS


In a media release of September 7 the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA)
called on the community to speak out against the logging of core koala habitat
in Braemar State Forest south of Casino on the NSW North Coast.


NEFA undertook its third Koala assessment of Braemar State Forest last weekend and again found abundant Koala scats, reaffirming that it is one of the most significant Koala populations known on State Forests, according to NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.

"We now estimate that there are over 100ha of Koala High Use Areas, which is unprecedented on State Forests. Over the past 20 years, across the hundreds of thousands of hectares they logged, the Forestry Corporation only found a total of 200ha of small scattered Koala High Use Areas"

"Braemar encompasses core breeding habitat that is part of the nationally significant Koala population previously identified across the nearby Carwong and Royal Camp State Forests.

"Our appeals to the Premier to intervene and ensure that all Koala High Use Areas are identified and protected were counter-productive. Instead the Government has decided to switch over to the new rules where Koala High Use Areas are no longer protected.

"A new Harvesting Plan was released last Saturday and logging is due to start on the auspicious date of Friday the 13th September.

"There are likely to be 60-90 Koalas living in the area they are about to trash.

"Now that Premier Berejiklian has removed protection for Koala High Use Areas the Forestry Corporation is also proposing logging compartment 13 Royal Camp SF where they were stopped in 2013 because of the extensive Koala High Use Areas NEFA identified.

"The onslaught on the nationally significant Koala population on public lands of the Richmond lowlands is fully underway. Spending millions to build Koala hospitals is treating the symptoms. when we most need to stop trashing their homes to save them from extinction.

"We are calling on the community to speak up for Braemar's Koalas by spreading the word, writing to the Premier and contacting their local parliamentarians before it is too late. 

"We are inviting people to come out to Braemar, at the Rappville turnoff 24 km south of Casino on the Summerland Way, at 10am next Sunday 15 September to stand up for Koalas", Mr. Pugh said.

"They are only expecting to get 1,400 cubic metres of high quality logs from flogging this Koala habitat.

"Annual commitments of such logs from north-east NSW are 220,000 cubic metres, and over the past 3 years the Forestry Corporation has over-logged by 95,500 cubic metres. They need to stop their gross over-cutting rather than destroying Koala habitat for a pittance".

Thursday, 5 September 2019

TIMBER HARVESTING AND CARBON STORAGE


An advertisement currently played over and over on television extolls the virtues of wood for building which, despite being given some credence through its sponsorship by Planet Ark, does require clarification.

The scene is set in a forestry nursery, where the narrator stresses these seedlings soak up carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, and when eventually used to build houses, that carbon is safely stored.

This message is only partly true, and the seedlings are undoubtedly used in plantations specifically to supply our insatiable demand for timber, but not all will end up as house frames. A large percentage will be used for garden fences, out-door decking and even for paper manufacture, all of which have short life spans, and will be disposed of in land-fill or burned, releasing the carbon back into the atmosphere within just a few short decades.

If a particular plantation tree is deemed worthy of being cut for house construction, just what percentage of that tree will be stored? Well, not much as it happens, and the following figures are very generous. Less than 40% of the average plantation tree is taken to the mill, 60% comprising the stump, root system and crowns, is left behind to be burned or to rot in the ground.

As well, after reaching the mill, a surprisingly small portion of the log provides timber. At an Upper House land use inquiry in 2013, respected local mill owner, the late Spiro Notaras, explained the salvage rate for smaller logs averages about 28%. That's about a quarter of each log actually becoming lumber, and while the remaining 70-75% is not always wasted, either burned to generate heat or electricity, it's still releasing carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.

So, at best only about 10% of a tree's mass the ends up being stored in buildings.

This would seem to be one of many good arguments to stop logging native forests, but instead we are currently clear-felling them at a financial loss. Where's the logic?

      - John Edwards


 This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on August 5, 2019

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

NSW UPPER HOUSE INQUIRY ON KOALAS


A committee of the Legislative Council, State Parliament’s upper house, is conducting an inquiry into koala populations and habitat in the state.

Matters it is investigating include the status of koala populations, the adequacy of current measures to protect the species and the impact of government legislation and policies on koalas and their habitat.

This inquiry is being welcomed by those concerned about declining koala numbers and the loss of koala habitat.  It is hoped that it will lead to effective action by the NSW Government to stop the current slide of koalas in this state towards extinction.

The major threat to koalas is loss of habitat as a result of agricultural and forestry activities as well as urban expansion into koala habitat (including rural residential expansion). Other threats, many of them development related, are road kill, dog attack and stress related disease.  Other threats include drought and climate change.

Current government policies are resulting in loss of habitat and habitat fragmentation.  The NSW Government’s easing of rules on native vegetation has led to an acceleration in land clearing which is affecting koalas as well as other vulnerable native species. 

Changes to logging rules in NSW State Forests are also having a serious impact on koalas and their habitat. A North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) study identified that the Forestry Corporation has logged 2,500 ha of “highest priority” koala habitat over the last four years.

On the North Coast koala populations have collapsed by 50% in the last 20 years.

The NSW Government responded to scientific and community concern about koalas by introducing its Koala Strategy.

A joint report by the World Wildlife Federation Australia (WWF), the NSW National Parks Association and NEFA is very critical of this, pointing out that the $45 million plan will not prevent the extinction of koalas in NSW.  Its primary failing is that “it ignores changes in legislation in 2017 that made it legal to clear 99% of the state’s koala habitat.”

Hopefully this parliamentary inquiry will force the Government to finally take effective action. 

            - Leonie Blain


 This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on August 12, 2019