The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) are calling for the Premier to intervene to ensure that the required thorough searches for koalas are undertaken and all Koala High Use Areas protected in Braemar State Forest, south of Casino.
On Sunday July 28 NEFA did a koala scat search over approximately 3ha of Braemar State Forest and they documented 42 trees with koala scats, including 14 with more than 20 koala scats.
‘This is an exceptional density of koalas and under the Threatened Species Licence this entire area qualifies as a Koala High Use Area that must be protected from imminent logging,’ NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
‘The full extent of this high quality koala habitat is obviously far greater than we have so far identified and there are likely other high use areas scheduled for logging.’
According to NEFA the area is already marked up for logging that is due to start later this month.
‘The full extent of this high quality koala habitat is obviously far greater than we have so far identified and there are likely other high use areas scheduled for logging,’ said Mr Pugh.
‘None of the trees we searched had been searched before us, despite the requirement of the Threatened Species Licence that thorough searches for koala scats have to be undertaken before logging.’
Gibberagee State Forest
A similar situation occurred in March this year when NFEA identified a significant koala population in Gibberagee State Forest. NEFA says the Forestry Corporation had not undertaken the thorough koala searches required.
‘Our appeals to the EPA and the environment minister Matt Kean to stop work while the required searches were undertaken to identify Koala High Use Areas were ignored. The Forestry Corporation continued to log Koala High Use Areas while the EPA were in the forest assessing our complaints. In the end, as a token gesture the Forestry Corporation only protected 1ha of a single Koala High Use Area we had identified.’
NEFA have requested that Premier Berejiklian intervene to stop the Forestry Corporation commencing logging in Braemar State Forest until there is an independent assessment of koala usage and the protection of Koala High Use Areas.
‘NEFA have had enough of the Forestry Corporation’s wanton disregard for their legal obligations and are determined to make them abide by the law this time,’ said Mr Pugh.
‘With the already proven significance of the nearby Royal Camp and Carwong State Forests for koalas our findings prove that these remnant forests on the margin of the Richmond floodplain are of exceptional importance for koalas and must be protected from further degradation.’
♦ The Forestry Corporation and environment minister Matt Kean have been contacted for comment.