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Byron Shire
July 29, 2021

‘Koala park’ forest blockade forcibly ended

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Greens MP Dawn Walker at the Sunny Corner logging bloackade, near Bellingen. Photo NSW Greens

The Greens and conservation groups have condemned the forcible ending of a forest blockade in a high-use koala area near Bellingen after 30 days of sit-ins and lock-ons prevented the removal of old-growth logs.

The Sunny Corner blockade had been in operation for nearly five weeks and had successfully prevented large logging machinery gaining access to high-value koala habitat in Gladstone State Forest.

Gladstone is contained within the proposed Great Koala National Park, and the blockade was triggered by the finding of hundreds of koala scats in 2017 highlighting the importance of the area for koalas.

National Parks Association CEO, Alix Goodwin said, the need for the Great Koala National Park was now ‘self-evident’.

How would we react if the Ugandan Government logged gorilla habitat, or the Chinese Government logged panda habitat? Yet, for some reason, the NSW government appears to be indifferent to logging koala habitat.

‘There is something wrong when a country like Australia allows logging to occur in an area of forest that has been clearly demonstrated to be occupied by koalas,’ Ms Goodwin said.

‘How would we react if the Ugandan Government logged gorilla habitat, or the Chinese Government logged panda habitat?

‘Yet, for some reason, the NSW government appears to be indifferent to logging koala habitat, despite koala populations in northern NSW plummeting over the last 20 years.

‘It is a national shame that the commonwealth koala conservation strategy lapsed in 2014, and we’re still waiting for the NSW koala strategy after the NSW recovery plan lapsed in 2013,’ Ms Goodwin said.

Logs ready for removal from Gladstone State Forest, a high koala use area near Bellingen. Photo NSW Greens

North Coast-based Greens MP Dawn Walker condemned the move in state parliament yesterday, describing it as ‘a peaceful community response to an outdated and destructive government approach to managing our precious forests’.

‘The government knows they can’t win the public relations battle over logging, so they have to bring in police and threaten peaceful protestors with arrest to get their way,’ Ms Walker said.

‘The fact that vital koala habitat can be lawfully logged in this day and age is as stupid as it is outrageous.

‘I congratulate the community for taking a stand to try and stop logging operations as the Government is clearly beholden to big logging interests.

‘The NSW Liberal-Nationals are a party of environmental vandals who have no ability to see the massive tourism potential that would come from protecting these forests in a new Great Koala National Park.

‘The Greens will be doing everything we can to make the need for Great Koala National Park an issue in the upcoming state election to be held in March next year’ said Dawn Walker MP.

Ms Goodwin said her group stood with the community members ‘who have risked arrest and heavy fines for the last month’ and called on the environment minister to ‘gazette the Great Koala National Park immediately’.

We know that protected areas protect species[3], and we know that koalas like big trees[4] and mature forests.

‘We must protect koala habitat if we are to have any chance of reversing recent population declines,’ Ms Goodwin said.


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8 COMMENTS

  1. Gorillas and Pandas are endangered. Koalas are in plagues. There are many more koalas now than there were when Europeans arrived. No explorer saw koalas except Strzelecki, when he got tangled up in the sapling scrubs of South Gippsland that grew up in no-man’s land after the Yowenjerre people were wiped out by smallpox and tribal warfare. No one saw koalas around Bellingen until after the 1960s when they bred up in regrowth forests and plantations full of soft juicy and nutritious young leaves. Anyone with eyes and brain between the ears can see from the photos in this silly article that the logs and trees aren’t old growth. People with wilderness between the ears have made it impossible to apply the sensible management, with frequent mild burning, that was traditional for forty thousand years and sustained viable low-density populations of koalas. Koalas inevitably decline from unsustainably high numbers when trees start dying in ‘protected’ scrub. The Great Koala National Park is just another cynical play in The Great Koala Scam. See the peer-reviewed science ‘Ecological history of the koala and implications for management’ in Wildlife Research.

    • So what’s your answer? Closer monitoring of koala populations? Hand over forestry to indigenous management and traditional forestry practises? Sounds good..

      • Yes! forestry commission was closely monitoring low density koala populations using radiotracking. National Parks stopped them because the work was showing that low density populations were stable and sustainable, demolishing arguments for land grabs like Great Koala National Park. Forestry is now starting to develop partnerships with traditional owners to reinstate traditional mild burning, strong Aboriginal communities and healthy diverse and resilient ecosystems.

      • Regrowth and young trees support Koala populations and we all know timber is more sustainable than other building products which is why Planet Ark encourages more use of timber. So you can have healthy Koala populations and a locally produced, low embodied carbon, sustainable building product. Its a win win for the environment and it’s strange that more people aren’t supportive.

      • More like millions. Koalas irrupted about 30 years after Aboriginal burning was disrupted in any particular area. 1830s west of Sydney, 1860s Bega Valley, Goulburn River etc.. When there were too many they suffered starvation and disease, so they were shot for export fur trade. But there was no decline until sick and heavily browsed paddock trees died out in the Federation Drought. Koalas died out too. Bit later further north in Queensland. No explorer saw koalas except Strzelecki in 1840 in South Gippsland where Yowenjerre people had been wiped out by 1789 smallpox epidemic followed by tribal warfare. He ate koalas because there were no roos or emus in dense young scrub.

  2. its a great shame the job of Australian police is is now one of protecting the crimes of politicians rather than the rights of the people or upholding law. Unfortunately the Australian police are the most brutal gang of thugs the country has ever been infected with as their unwavering support for govt criminality clearly demonstrates.

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