On Saturday four conservationists stopped logging in koala habitat in Comboyne State Forests west of Port Macquarie.
Spokesperson for the protesters Susie Russell said they had been informed during the week that a neighbour had seen and heard koalas in that patch of forest.
Ms Russell has been a long time activist with the North East Forest Alliance and is a Vice-President of the North Coast Environment Council.
Prime koala habitat destroyed in the fires
‘With so much prime koala habitat destroyed in the fires, every bit of koala habitat is important.’
Ms Russell said she wrote to Forestry Corporation last Thursday advising them koala activity in the area and asked them to give an asked them to stop logging. ‘They didn’t reply and then we heard that the machines had started up on Saturday morning.
‘Protesting was a spontaneous response to the frustration many of us feel. Despite the koalas of our region having suffered hundreds of fatalities in the recent fires, and despite so many millions of hectares having burnt, it’s business as usual for the logging industry.’
Protesters escorted from the site by police
‘We stayed on site for almost three hours before we were escorted off by police and threatened with significant fines. We will consider taking further action,’ said Ms Russell.
Ms Russell said the logging has been going on for a while. ‘It is one of several areas that were being logged before the fires, that the EPA gave the go-ahead to continue after the fires.
Ms Russell said that people living on the logging truck route have been getting increasingly anxious about the volume of logs leaving the area.
‘I had been away for almost a month and on my return, I talked to a neighbour who said that several years ago he had rescued a chlamydia infected koala that had come from that forest and it had eventually been released back where they found it in the Comboyne.
‘They neighbour also said they had also heard a koala in recent weeks.’
Information provided by conservationist Dailan Pugh shows that the area is modelled habitat for the Sphagnum Frog, the Stuttering Frog, Giant Barred Frog and the Tiger Quoll – ‘These are all identified 113 Commonwealth most threatened species along with koala, whose unburnt habitat should be protected,’ said M Pugh. ‘The harvesting plan will likely have other species in it such as the Greater Glider.’
Ms Russell said that when someone rang her on Saturday morning to say that all three machines were ‘going for it’ at 7am, she felt really frustrated. ‘So, the four of us decided to go in and stop work to make the point. Interestingly one of the contractors acknowledged that they’d been told we might show up’.