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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Call for Minister Kean to keep his word and protect koala habitat

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The EPA issued a stop work order at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest. Photo supplied.

The EPA (environmental protection authority) issued a stop work order at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest near Cascade on the Dorrigo plateau on 18 July, nine days after they found the NSW Forestry Corporation had illegally logged two giant trees. But local ecologist and spokesperson from North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is calling for the ‘Environment Minister Matt Kean to stump up by protecting important koala habitat from further logging and ensuring that the EPA prosecute the Forestry Corporation for flagrantly breaking the new logging rules by cutting down giant trees and recklessly endangering the survival of other giant hollow-bearing trees and koala feed trees.’

On 26 July Environment Minister Matt Kean claimed he wanted to see koala populations doubled by 2050, stating Koalas are the most iconic example of our mismanagement of the environment and we’ve got to say “enough is enough”.

Damage by the NSW Forestry Corporation to four giant hollow-bearing trees and six koala feed trees. Photo supplied.

Following the EPA stop work order NEFA experts did a brief audit at at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest on the afternoon of 28 July, 2020. They found a further 12 breaches of the logging rules, comprising two more felled giant trees, and reckless damage to four giant hollow-bearing trees and six koala feed trees.

‘The felled giant trees were around 1.5 metres diameter, and the giant hollow bearing trees damaged by logging machinery driving over their roots and bashing their trunks were 1.5 to 2 metres diameter,’ Mr Pugh explains.

‘These massive awe-inspiring trees are the height of 10 storey buildings and 300–500 years old. They provide the large hollows that many of our iconic animals depend upon for dens and nests. They predate European settlement of Australia, yet the Forestry Corporation are recklessly felling and damaging them. This has to be stopped,’ said Mr Pugh.

Outstanding koala habitat

‘These forests have also been identified as being outstanding koala habitat. In 2017 the Office of Environment and Heritage identified the logging area as part of the largest cluster of resident koala populations (Koala Hubs) on the Dorrigo Plateau, and last year the Department of Planning Industry and Environment identified it for protection as part of a greatly reduced Great Koala National Park to “provide a feasible and strategic balance between increasing protections for koalas, while minimising impact to forestry operations”.

‘The pitiful 10 koala feed trees per hectare the Forestry Corporation are required to retain in this forest are only 40 per cent of the number recommended by the Expert Fauna Panel and the EPA, and even these they are recklessly and carelessly damaging.

‘While it is important that the Forestry Corporation are prosecuted for their flagrant breaches of the new logging rules, if Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Environment Minister Matt Kean are fair dinkum about reversing the decline of koalas the first thing they need to do is stop logging their homes and feed trees.

‘Premier enough is enough. Time to stump up Minister Kean,’ Mr Pugh said.

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  1. Why not have independent or government inspectors mandatory on all logging crews and no trees can be logged without approval. It would create jobs too.
    There are so many simple things that could be done to protect the environment, minimise pollution and massively increase recycling but the government does little or nothing.
    Mr Pugh, I salute you for your efforts and refusal to give up, if only the politicians hurt like many of us do when seeing this destruction.

  2. Thank you from the bottom of our broken hearts to the Echo, for alerting the community to the TRUE facts around logging in this ‘privileged’ & bogan nation. Sadly many people don’t care & aren’t involved in trying to protect our diminishing high conservation /old growth forests.If you care enough , you are informed enough that simple really. The history of logging the crap out of our native forests has been sanctioned & funded by Govt , courtesy of the unaware tax payer, for a unsustainable industry over decades. Dalian Pugh you are a true legend & one devoted/ compassionate individual with the highest integrity. As you say 10 Koala tress per hectare is pitiful & the Govt can not even abide by their own rules & regulations. Even when they caught (by activists) illegally logging, NOTHING WILL HAPPEN & in a weeks time, this crime against nature will be forgotten. NO Govt bureaucrat or politician will be held accountable , so business as usual prevails. Our wildlife have suffered beyond words & beyond anyones imaginings, this puts a rock in my heart that I carry around seemingly eternally.Many other wonderful people I know feel the same & we no doubt have PTSD , but this is nothing compared to the misery & mayhem we have callously caused our long suffering & under valued wildlife. OUR SPECIES IS REALLY A DANGEROUS CURSE ON THIS PLANET.

  3. Well said Lindy,
    All you say is true, except that the “unaware tax payer,” is aware but doesn’t care , mainly because they are terrified of ‘The Bush’ and are only relaxed in areas of cement and bitumen, preferably with an ATM.
    You can say what you like about the great Aussie battler ,the struggling farmers ,the RSL and the RFS , but the truth is they are ignorant and generally gutless suburbanites who desire nothing more so much as, the elimination of the Natural World, and they poison, burn and clearfell, anything they don’t understand.
    Meanwhile, historically the various forms of government are terrified of THEM, which explains why we have NO effective government at any level, and the history of this country is nothing more than a litany of lies designed to hide the incompetence of the relevant authorities and reassure’ the powers that be’ and the investors that everything is above board and business as usual.
    The environment is an inconvenience not a consideration.
    Cheers G”)


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