NSW Greens MP, Dawn Walker has been fined for protesting against a logging operation that has been caught out destroying koala habitat in Gibberagee State Forest, south of Lismore yesterday.
Koalas were the focus of protests on the north coast as part of a National Forest Uprising and Ms Walker was part of a multi-pronged action yesterday that saw protests at Coffs Harbour and Wauchope Forestry Corporation offices, in Gibberagee State Forest (near Whiporie), in Wang Waulk State Forest (near Coolongolook) and at Parliament House in Canberra.
NEFA has also obtained satellite imagery showing the destruction of an Area of Local Koala Significance, known as a Koala Hub, in Wang Wauk State Forest on the mid-north coast.
NEFA spokesperson Susie Russell says this destruction is a crime against the future.
‘This is not an isolated example,’ she said. ‘Another image shows logging in a Koala Hub at Ingalba State Forest near Kempsey.
‘No doubt we will find other examples now the technology is becoming more accessible. Logging of koala home ranges has been going on for years across the region, probably across the State.’
Ms Russell says it’s no surprise that koala numbers are in free-fall. ‘The satellite images we’ve made public today show what the NSW Government is really doing when it comes to koalas. The Government logging agency is overseeing the destruction of koala homes.’
At Gibberagee the peaceful protest by over 50 community members stopped work at the logging site for several hours following a comprehensive audit by NEFA that documented multiple breaches of logging rules, resulting in core koala habitat and old hollow-bearing trees being destroyed on the site.
‘We are facing a biodiversity crisis,’ said Dawn Walker MP. ‘But rather than listen to overwhelming public opinion that wants to see our precious forests protected and our timber needs come from plantations, the NSW Government has continued down the path of forest destruction and extinction.’
Ms Walker said that in the public forest, the loggers have been caught out breaching their own rules by failing to identify and protect koala habitat. ‘What’s shocking is that this forest is almost denuded of old, hollow-bearing trees that so many species rely on to reproduce, including owls, gliders and parrots.
‘It’s tragic to see our forests continually logged for a short-term profit. It’s a disaster for native forests, wildlife and the climate and I’m determined to stand with brave community members in opposition to this Government’s destructive logging practices that are pushing koalas to extinction across NSW.
‘With a state election a matter of weeks away, it’s time the people of NSW put protecting forests high on their agenda and don’t vote for any party that won’t commit to ending native forest logging or unwinding the disastrous Regional Forest Agreements that are pushing our precious wildlife to extinction.’
Conservationist and NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh says the Forestry Corporation are refusing to undertake the pre-logging surveys necessary to identify and protect Koala High Use Areas.
‘They are doing nothing for koalas’, he said.
Mr Pugh said he also found that they are only protecting half the hollow-bearing and recruitment trees they are legally required to.
‘There are threatened hollow-dependent animals recorded in these forests that depend on these trees for their homes.
‘Our recent findings are part of a pattern documented across numerous State Forests over many years of the Forestry Corporation refusing to comply with the requirements of their Threatened Species Licence.
‘That these [non-compliant actions] are continuing in Gibberagee State Forest despite our two previous attempts to get the Environment Protection Authority to stop this criminal behaviour in this specific forest is outrageous.’
Fines were issued to protesters and Ms Walker was one of the recipients.