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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Call to stop logging of koala habitat as bushfires continue to burn

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Over 2,000 koalas have been lost due to the impact of the ongoing bushfires in NSW. Photo supplied.

Prior to the current bushfires koalas were at risk of major population decline through habitat loss and logging but with significant areas of their habitat being burnt out by bushfire many of the previously stable colonies are on the verge of collapse. Recognising the disastrous impact that the fires are having on koala populations a call is being put out to the NSW government to stop logging of koala habitat.

A number of groups appearing before today’s NSW Legislative Council inquiry into koala populations and habitat in New South Wales have requested the committee actively call on the NSW government to put in place a moratorium on logging koala habitat across public and private lands as an emergency response to the loss of thousands of koalas and their habitat due to wildfires.

‘Today’s hearing is timely and necessary. We will be hearing from some of Australia’s leading experts on koalas, bushfire and climate change. We will also hear recommendations that must be urgently taken to ensure these fires don’t lead to the irreversible decline of koalas in NSW,’ said Cate Faehrmann chair of the inquiry into koala populations and Greens spokesperson on the environment. 

Kajika the koala is one of the lucky few koalas who was rescued from bushfires and is recovering with Friends of the Koala. Photo supplied.

Millions of hectares burnt out

‘Since July, as of yesterday wild fires have burnt out over 1.6 million hectares of the north east NSW bioregion (north from the Hunter River and westward to the Great Escarpment ), this represents 28 per cent of the region and 39 per cent of native vegetation,’ said North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Dailan Pugh.

‘It has been observed that in eucalypt forests even where tree canopies are just scorched, rather than burnt, that most leaves are desiccated or die, leaving little food for surviving Koalas

‘Various koala habitat models show that over a quarter of potential koala habitat has been burnt, though koala losses are expected to be far greater because many areas of potential koala habitat have already been degraded by logging, previous fires and other factors, and thus already lost most of their koalas.

‘As the wildfires have impacted particularly heavily on know core populations, such as on the Richmond Lowlands, Dorrigo Plateau and around Lake Innes, it is likely that over a third of the north-coast’s koalas have lost their habitat, at least until it regenerates.

Burnt area of koala habitat adjacent to the RMS Pacific Highway upgrade site. Photo David Milledge

Koala populations on verge of collapse

‘Some populations are particularly badly affected. Of the 29 areas of regional koala significance identified on the north coast, eight are in major trouble as 73–90 per cent of their koala habitat has burnt (Gibraltar Range, Clouds Creek, Nowendoc, Banyabba, Crowdy Bay, Girard-Ewingar, Kiwarrak and Khappinghat)

‘An expert workshop in 2012 estimated that koala populations on the north coast had declined by 50 per cent in the past 20 years, leaving an extant population of around 8,400 koalas. It is likely that thousands of these survivors have been killed, with many populations now on the verge of collapse.

‘In just one fire season, which is not over yet, thousands of koalas have lost their homes, and most of these are likely to have died. These fires have greatly compounded the plight of koalas and driven them, and numerous other species, further towards extinction.

‘If we want to give koalas a chance to survive this unfolding catastrophe then a logging moratorium must immediately be placed upon all potential habitat in order to allow burnt feed trees a chance to recover, and to protect the remaining intact refuges essential as source areas for recolonisation’, Mr Pugh said.

Call for a moratorium on logging koala habitat

A number of groups appearing before the committee of inquiry into koala populations and habitat in New South Wales today have requested the committee actively call on the NSW government to put in place a moratorium on logging koala habitat across public and private lands as an emergency response to the fires, stating:

‘It is an appropriate precautionary response to put on hold further native forest logging on both public and private land until a comprehensive and independent assessment is conducted, and the appropriate measures are taken to ensure the best possible outcomes for koalas and other threatened plant and animal species.’

The letter was signed on behalf of the Nature Conservation Council, North East Forest Alliance, Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation and Mulong.

‘Hearing that we have lost up to a third of koala habitat and more than 2,000 koalas on the North Coast is utterly devastating and should be a wakeup call for this government that they must take action to protect koala habitat,’ said Ms Faehrmann.

‘As a result of this new evidence, there must be a moratorium on public native forest in Northern NSW.’


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10 COMMENTS

  1. Well a moratorium on logging in koala habitat would be a rational and logical response.
    Which means in typical pig-headed Gladys fashion, she will ignore it and plough on regardless.
    And Barillaro will laud her for it.

    Gladys oft-repeated motto is “we don’t have to choose between education / health / roads / emergency services / water management / environmental conservation [etc insert funding issues here]….. in NSW we can have it all”
    – except if you’re a threatened species like koalas receiving a paltry $11.2mill, or the National Parks Service with 30% fewer staff and 35% less funding than when the LNP took over. Government koala funding looks even more paltry alongside the Go Fund Me figures of $2mill raised by Port Macquarie Koala Hospital & the $200,000 raised by our Lismore Koala Hospital since the fires. All while $750mill lies reserved for rebuilding a sports stadium in Sydney, still without an appointed tender. Priorities.

  2. Well said Nathan, unbelievably the LNP has already talked about logging in fire prone areas I am told ??OMG when is enough …enough ?? I have heard this madness, re the continuation of native forest logging for over 40 yrs & STILL our forest are mismanaged & under appreciated. The loggers see trees just as timber, WE see trees as a necessary vital component of a healthy eco system , that provides native wildlife with homes & a sense of safety. In the past 8 yrs hundreds of NPWS staff have been sacked & funding greatly reduced. Guess what ? NPWS staff fight fires & most fires in NSW haven’t been in NParks. The pathetic amount of funds (after much begging) that goes to wildlife is exactly that….. PATHETIC. Our precious wildlife is under valued & under appreciated & under funded, that simple sadly. Wildlife don’t vote & to most politicians they are irrelevant at best & at worst just get in the way. As a wildlife carer of 15 yrs I despair & find this desensitised , bloodyminded attitude heart breaking.We need EVERYONE to turn up in the forests & chain themselves to trees IF Gladys allows & more importantly promotes logging after this ‘burning’ apocalypse is over ……if ever.

  3. Have a lot to say… nothing polite or suitable for the likes of this here respected news gallop…
    so… it is safe to consider in this open space & free respectful speech that silence is.. um well… hmmmm.. one of our beloved countries totems.

    Thank you Gaia for having us here. We will endeavour to do better. Hoponpono beloved ones. We are sorry!

  4. Have a lot to say… nothing polite or suitable for the likes of this here respected news gallop…
    so… it is safe to consider in this open space & free respectful speech that silence is.. um well… hmmmm.. one of our beloved countries totems.

    Thank you Gaia for having us here. We will endeavour to do better. Hoponpono beloved ones. We are sorry!

    Actually, I do have one thing to say…
    ‘Nimrods your towers are burning down’

  5. Maybe a more rational approach would be if all of you disconnected yuppie greens and assorted infantile hangers on accepted your responsibility for the loss of the 2000 koalas and pissed off back to the city and the suburbs and let country people and black fellas go back to managing the land since we have been very well from the beginning. Cheers now fck off.

    • Bob, I think your comment is more about the success of the NBN getting a Wi Fi signal to under your rock. The black fellas and the majority of country folk are on board with above – google/Facebook Farmers for Climate Action (who recently had a meeting with the federal government) You do realise that the same impact on the Koalas has also destroyed farmland, farm houses and machinery, crops, cows and farmed tree plantations

    • Oh and what a GREAT job “country people and black fellas” have done !
      remember the Mega-fauna ?, The thylacine ? The fish in the rivers ? The flocks of jabiroo and Billions of waterbirds ? I believe that people with attitudes like your’s have done nothing more than “fck” the land.
      Cheers G”)

  6. That is the most irrational comment so far. Barnaby-like even! It is because of your “country people” and their approach to land management that koalas are in this dire predicament. If your “country people and black fellas” are such great land managers, was their land protected and spared from these blazes? How on earth are people in the city and yuppie greens to blame? They don’t manage the land and haven’t been in government. Some basic research would show you the level of management undertaken and the science that underpins it. Google it

    Science has demonstrated fires of this scale occurred about once every thousand years even under indigenous land management – mainly through analysis of sediment cores from widespread lakes and wetlands showing simultaneous appearance of charcoal layers and changes to the species of pollen. The difference is wildlife populations weren’t already threatened, had a larger base from which to recover, had indigenous land management practices limiting the potential for immediate recurrence, and weren’t dealing with the impacts of climate change.

  7. It doesn’t take much to have the loud mouth brigade
    lose the plot as we all know. It’s all about the wood
    versus animal, now isn’t it? Admit it. More mega
    bucks. As for our prem Glad… well, the stadium
    needs a shove & I’m too polite to say where.

  8. Well Nathan & Lindy, you two are prophetic – it’s already happening…..
    The latest joke is Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley being embarrassed into providing additional funding on Tuesday (Dec 10) by the results of the go-fund-me campaigns referred to in the top comment – an additional for $3 mill for koala “rescue and rehabilitation” after the bushfires. But refuses to implement any habitat protection – & she even went so far as to say: “The reason that it’s a threatened species is because it exists where houses and urban development do.” In August she said “deforestation in Australia wasn’t as high on her list of concerns”, because there are “really strict requirements around land clearing”.

    Astounding logic & ignorance. Her actions are too little, too late, there are none left to rescue, yet it’s ok to keep clearing remaining habitat? wtf? omg! etc

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