A spokesperson for the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) says that the group believe that the National Party has been intentionally misleading the community over their attacks on the Koala SEPP as decisions had already been made months before to abandon the maps and exclude logging and landclearing, making it perplexing as to what truly motivated their actions.
NEFA’s Dailan Pugh said with 61% of the north coast’s “likely” koala habitat remaining on private lands, and probably less than 6,000 koalas left, we cannot save the koala from extinction without protecting its core habitat on private lands. ‘It is extremely concerning that the National’s attacks on Koala protections have been based on misinformation.
‘In a letter sent to the Nationals leader Barilaro on 21 August Rob Stokes informed him that the Pink DA map would be removed and they would “revert to a survey process which existed under SEPP 44”. The decision to abandon this map had been made months previously as the Koala Strategy Board Meeting of 28 May 2020 was informed of this intent.
Map triggered need for koala assessments
‘This is the Koala Development Application Map which simply triggered the need for koala assessments when submitting Development Applications.
Mr Pugh said that given that the Nationals knew the map would no longer be used they have been deliberately misleading the community by making this mapping the focus of their attacks on the SEPP.
‘Stokes also informed the Nationals on 21 August that “Planning officials would welcome the opportunity” to exclude land clearing and logging from the ambit of the Koala SEPP, meaning that core Koala habitat identified in a Koala Plan of Management would no longer require approval to be extensively cleared and can be logged.
‘When core Koala Habitat is mapped in a KPoM it is included as Sensitive Protected Land under the Local Land Services Act 2013, which means that approval is required for extensive clearing. And since 2007 mapped core Koala Habitat has been protected from logging under the Private Native Forestry Code.
‘There are a whole raft of routine agricultural activities that are still allowed without approval, such as clearing within 6m of tracks and fences, and clearing for “sustainable grazing”.
‘It is important to recognise that Timber NSW have focused their attack on the SEPP using misleading claims that routine agricultural activities would no longer be excluded, when really their intent has been to ensure that core Koala habitat is no longer protected from logging.
Mr Pugh said that before their threat to bring down the Government, the National Party seem to have succeeded is excluding land-clearing and logging from the ambit of the Koala SEPP. ‘So that only leaves development as the real target of heir revolt.
‘The revelation that the only representation that John Barilaro has raised with planning Minister Rob Stokes is from a Newcastle property developer with multiple residential developments on the edges of towns including Maitland, Lismore and Armidale says a lot about the National’s true motivations for their belated attack on Koalas.
‘Now that the map of likely Koala habitat has been thrown out and core Koala habitat mapped by Council’s will no longer apply to logging operations and land clearing, if the Koala is to be saved it is essential that the NSW Government step up and undertake urgent and accurate mapping of core Koala habitat itself for application across NSW.’