While flood warnings are currently being issued for the norther rivers it is vital to remember that significant habitat for many animals has been burnt across the state and in north-east NSW. North East Forest. Alliance (NEFA) is calling on the NSW state government to immediately placing a logging and clearing moratorium over all unburnt habitat of the 57 animal species in north-east NSW identified by experts as needing urgent help to survive in the wake of devastating bushfires.
‘Almost two and a half million hectares of north-east NSW (north of the Hunter River) was burnt in the recent fires, affecting 29 per cent of the land area and around half the native vegetation and its inhabitants,’ said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
The 2018 changes to logging and clearing laws in NSW by the Liberal National party coalition significantly removed or reduced protection for many plants and animals that have been severely impacted by the fires.
‘North-east NSW provides core habitat for half of the 113 animal species that the experts commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment identified on Tuesday as needing urgent help to survive in the wake of devastating bushfires.
‘This includes 10 birds, 13 mammals, 9 reptiles, 11 frogs, 12 spiny crayfish and 2 freshwater fish species.
Those species identified as being at highest risk of extinction include the Rufous Scrub-bird, Regent Honeyeater, Hastings River Mouse, Long Sunskink, Manning River Helmeted Turtle, Broad-headed Snake, Pugh’s Frog, Mountain Frog, Sphagnum Frog, Peppered Tree Frog, New England Tree Frog, Tyler’s Toadlet, Small Crayfish, Smooth Crayfish, Ellen Clark’s Crayfish, Hairy Cataract Crayfish, Oxleyan Pygmy Perch, and Clarence River Cod, said MrPugh.
‘In their simplistic assessment the NSW Government also identified the threatened Pugh’s Frog, Hastings River Mouse, Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby, Parma Wallaby, Yellow-bellied Glider, New England Tree Frog, and Davie’s Tree Frog as having more than half their known localities burnt.
Around 95 per cent of the Pugh’s From estimated modelled habitat has been burnt out leaving serious concerns over its survival as a species.
‘The Commonwealth identifies the highest priority actions for all species as protecting unburnt habitat patches and carrying out rapid ground assessments of remnant populations.
‘While the Commonwealth has yet to complete their assessment of threatened plants, NSW’s preliminary assessment identified 19 of north-east NSW’s threatened plants had more than 90 per cent of their localities burnt, and another 27 species had more than 50 per cent burnt.
‘It is telling that in 2018 the NSW Government removed or reduced already inadequate logging protections for most of these plants and animals. They don’t stand a chance if logging is now allowed amongst any survivors.
‘In accordance with the Commonwealth recommendations NEFA is calling on the NSW Government to immediately implement a moratorium on all logging operations and land clearing within and near the identified habitat and locations of these imperiled threatened species, as well as upstream of the frogs, fish and crayfish.
‘Until the needed surveys are undertaken, their very survival has to be considered at stake,’ Mr Pugh said.