Logging koala habitat that was severely burnt out during the recent and devastating Black Summer fires appears to be in opposition to the NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean’s statement that, ‘Koalas are the most iconic example of our mismanagement of the environment, and we’ve got to say “enough is enough”.’
Yet once again the NSW Forestry Commission is heading to burnt out forests with the intention to log. This time it is in the Myrtle State forest, that includes significant koala habitat, located 40km south of Casino, and Monday, 24 August is the start date.
‘Myrtle State Forest is part of 5,000 ha over three burnt State Forests within the Banyabba Area of Regional Koala Significance (ARKS) that the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) approved for logging last February,’ said North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
‘The Banyabba ARKS was one of the worst affected by the 2019/20 bushfires, with 83 per cent of its modelled 71,000 ha of “likely” koala habitat burnt in the wildfires, with the apparent loss of 80–90 per cent of koalas from burnt areas. This was a huge impact on an already declining population.’
Bearing witness to both the devastation of the fires and to the future devastation that the planned logging will have on both the forest and the koala population Northern Rivers Red Rebels (NRRR) joined with other Australians last Sunday to mark their concern.
‘We were there to bear witness,’ said Cindy Lou Vallet of the NRRR .
‘We go in and are part of the forest; sending love and peace into the forest. We were there to make a statement about the [forest’s] importance and how needed these trees are. This forest has been logged and then ravaged by fire. There is so little left. We go in and walk in slow motion and express our feelings in the hope that some decisions will be changed.’
Marie Reilly from Extinction Rebellion highlighted how fragile the ecosystem in this area is as a consequence of the drought that was then followed by the unprecedented Black Summer fires.
‘With drought, bushfires and decades of logging – the Banyabba koala population is barely hanging in there. This forest desperately needs regeneration and care, not logging,’ she told The Echo.
‘It is reprehensible that the EPA approved this logging without first assessing the fire impacts on the Banyabba ARKS or the koalas within the logging areas,’ said Mr Pugh.
‘This population has been so badly affected that all surviving koalas are vital to rebuild it, they can’t afford to lose anymore.
‘Koalas are one of the many threatened species affected by both logging and wildfires that need our help to recover, not to be hit again with what could be a fatal blow.’
Ms Reilly says logging of all public native forests needs to stop so that the forests can recover and ‘continue to provide vital habitat, carbon sequestration, and water vapour cycles. This will help reduce climate chaos and lessen the likelihood of triggering climate “tipping points”,’ she said.
This Sunday, 23 August a group of concerned citizens will be returning to Myrtle State Forest to set up camp to ‘peacefully resist’ the resumption of logging in the area.
‘All those who want to give our koalas a future are welcome to come,’ Mr Pugh said.