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April 15, 2021

Forestry logging ‘highest priority’ koala habitat

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The NEFA study has identified over 4,000 A North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) study has identified that the Forestry Corporation has logged 2,500 hectares of ‘highest priority’ koala habitat over the last four years. Image supplied.

It appears that the Forestry Corporation has targeted high use koala habitats for logging over the last four years including areas that have been identified as ‘highest priority for protection’ by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).

A North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) study has identified that the Forestry Corporation has logged 2,500 hectares of ‘highest priority’ koala habitat, that is 636ha a year over the last four years.

‘It was shocking to find that the Forestry Corporation has been targeting the best koala habitat for logging,’ said report author and NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.

‘Even after OEH identified them as koala hubs the Forestry Corporation logged 430ha last year. This included compartment 233 in Gladstone State Forest near Bellingen that conservationists resorted to blockades to try and stop.

‘Current harvesting plans show that many more koala hubs are proposed for logging this year,’ he said.

‘It was bad enough that Premier Berejiklian chose to ignore the science by only including 180 hectares of these koala hubs within the sham koala reserves she announced as the centerpiece of her koala strategy in May last year.

‘It is reprehensible that she has allowed the Forestry Corporation to go on targeting them for logging, including with unlawful intensive logging.’

Koala scats from Gibberagee State Forest. Image supplied.

Koala scat-detection dogs on offer

The resistance of the Forestry Corporation to fulfilling its legal obligations in regards to the identification of koala high use areas is currently being highlighted by their response to recent lock-ons at Gibberagee State Forest south of Lismore.

While logging has currently been suspended as a result of the lock-ons the Forestry Corporation is still refusing to take up NEFAs offer to to engage a scat-detection dog to search for koala high use areas in Gibberagee.

As proven in studies properly trained dogs are the most efficient and effective way to search for Koala scats, said Mr Pugh.

Proven success

‘They engaged the koala detection dog Oscar in Royal Camp State Forest in 2013 after NEFA revealed the Forestry Corporation were not looking for koala scats and were logging koala high use areas.

‘Oscar found koalas at a density of one per three hectares and the Forestry Corporation claimed in a media release (7 August 2013) that the results would help them develop ‘accurate operational plans that exclude koala high use areas from harvesting.

‘They have not been able to resume logging in Royal Camp State Forest since because of the large number of koala high use areas revealed by our manual scat searches and Oscar. It is no wonder that they haven’t engaged a koala detection dog since.

‘Our delineation of more koala high use areas in Gibberagee State Forest is their real concern and their reason for refusing our offer to undertake a one day trial using a scat detection dog.

‘They are still refusing to search for koalas before logging and have identified no koala high use areas, yet our manual searches have proven they are again logging likely koala high use areas.

‘The difference this time is that we are proposing on engaging Reconeco’s dog Jet that is specifically trained to locate koala scats rather than just koalas, which fulfils the Forestry Corporation’s legal obligations.

‘Given that logging is not currently occurring we urge the Forestry Corporation to reconsider our peace offer. While the Forestry Corporation may not like us identifying koala high use areas it is a legal requirement which we are offering to do for free under their supervision.

‘They have nothing to lose, except for some of their logging area where we prove the existence of koala high use areas.

‘For the future survival of koalas it is essential that their core habitat is protected in important koala habitat like Gibberagee before logging resumes,’ Mr Pugh said.

♦ Echonetdaily has contacted the Forestry Corporation for comment.

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  1. Shocking record Gladys !
    No wonder you now resort to MAN HANDLING someone who asks you about this horrifying deforestation!!

  2. Keep up the good work NEFA !
    Unfortunately this sad and repetitive tale is not surprising. The attitude of Forestry Corp / State Forests / Forestry Commission towards high conservation areas is unchanged over the past 30-40 years despite the legislation to force change, their lost court battles, their loss of forests too valuable to continue the plunder, their numerous breaches of licence conditions and the series of paltry and inadequate fines.

    They lost court cases in the late 1980s and early 1990s for failing to prepare aquate EISs, and failing to identify or protect the veritable zoo of threatened species that suffered under their poor management. In the late 1990s they destroyed high conservation value forests and critical threatened species habitat adjoining National Parks and Nature Reserves that was under consideration for addition to the NSW conservation reserve system, solely to prevent increased or permanent protections.

    Under the Regional Forest Agreements they knowingly signed timber supply agreements to provide timber volumes that simply did not exist, knowing that attempts to meet unviable supply quotas would lead to virtual clear-felling, and harvesting tooth-picks instead of logs.

    In this latest instance of illegality highlighted by NEFA, they have so far successfully continued their two favourite long-standing, abhorrent, illegal and immoral tactics: (i) Don’t Look and you Won’t Find; then (ii) Destroy the valuable habitat in question so it ceases to be habitat !

    They have made an art form of ignoring the science and avoiding the regulators. It is little wonder so may of NSW forest dwelling fauna species are in decline and officially listed both by other arms of government and international NGOs as Vulnerable and Endangered. How have they continued to get away with this for so long? Where are the regulators? Why have the few breaches resulted in such paltry penalties with no consequences for operators or management?

    Species are already being pushed to the edge of extinction. When will it stop? It’s not just unsustainable, it’s not even proper management of our public forests.

    Compare the consequences of Forestry management practices to those of farmers…. For example, it’s a completely unacceptable and illegal act of animal cruelty if a farmer were to not provide adequate food or shelter for livestock and pets; or forced them into starvation; or deliberately knocked down, burned and totally destroy their housing, and exposed them to predators; or forced them onto roads to forage for themselves; or created stress that cause illness and left injuries untreated….. in short, to knowingly take any actions that lead to a slow painful death. Yet Forestry escapes consequences for the same such actions impacting native fauna. Where is the justice?

    Much of the Australian environmental movement was born out of opposition to abhorrent and immoral practices by a voracious industry that knew no bounds. Most of the focus of Australia’s environmental movement has turned elsewhere – a few new National Parks, job done. But the Forestry industry has just continued along the same path of destruction, playing clever semantics with critics.

    Time for a complete overhaul of Forest management, a renewed focus on plantations, a new regulator with teeth, and recognition that forests are crucial habitat for our precious and declining native fauna. Not time, long overdue.


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