The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has totally rejected industry claims that logging is good for koalas, while calling for an immediate logging and clearing moratorium on all highly suitable koala habitat as identified by the Government.
NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh says logging has removed many of the large trees preferred by koalas for feeding as well as vital fire refuges out of the reach of ground fires, in the process reducing koala populations and making forests drier and more flammable.
‘Logging has had a profound impact on koalas and their chances of surviving our apocalyptic future.
‘North-east NSW koala populations have declined over 50% in the past 20 years, and last year 30% of ‘highly suitable koala habitat’ was burnt, including many known core populations. Thousands of koalas were killed.
Mr Pugh says the Banyabba population is one of the worst affected with 84% of ‘highly suitable koala habitat’ burnt in the Busbys Flat and Myall Creek fires. This covers lowland forests from the Richmond Range through to Iluka on the coast, and from Lawrence on the Clarence River north to Mongogarie, south of Casino.
‘NEFA’s monitoring of koalas on State Forests south of Casino has found 90% of koalas have been lost from the fireground, so over three-quarters of the Banyabba koala population is likely to have been lost. This population was already in decline before the fires.
Mr Pugh says koalas face a precarious future, particularly if we continue to log their feed and fire refuge trees. ‘The koalas need the same trees the loggers want.
‘If we want to give koalas a chance to recover from the devastating impacts of the bushfires, the Government must act urgently to stop logging and clearing of all ‘highly suitable koala habitat’.
‘Given the immense loss of wildlife in the bushfires it is time to stop degrading their habitat and start restoring it. Business as usual is no longer an option if we want to save our wildlife,’ said Mr Pugh.