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Byron Shire
January 19, 2022

Natural Resources Commission using ‘propaganda’ to log koala feed trees sat NEFA

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This tree faerie is a precious koala. Photo Tree Faerie.

The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) says that the assertion by the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) report that logging of koala feed trees doesn’t have any impact on koalas is ‘dangerous propaganda’.

‘It further threatens their survival by denying koalas the increased protection they urgently need,’ said NEFA said spokesperson Dailan Pugh.

NEFA explained that the use of koala recordings that indicate the presence of a koala somewhere in the vicinity is not appropriate for detecting the impact of logging on koalas. They said they do not accept the NRC claim from DPI Forestry’s fundamentally flawed study that ‘the Coastal IFOA conditions and protocols did not adversely impact koala density’.

‘This is contrary to the EPA’s 2016 study that found “areas of higher activity positively correlated with greater abundance and diversity of local koala feed trees, trees and forest structure of a more mature size class, and areas of least disturbance”,’ said Mr Pugh.

Fire fighters battling flames on the Woombah to Iluka road in November 2019. Photo Ewan Willis.

Devastating impact of Black Summer fires

‘The NRC’s pretence that the Forestry Corporation can log the large trees that koala’s are preferentially feeding on and have no impact on koalas maintains a dangerous fallacy. That fallacy is one of the reasons why koala populations on the north coast had declined by 50 per cent in the 20 years before the 2019/20 fires.’

The significant impact on koalas of the 2019/20 fires has been confirmed by the NRC, however, Mr Pugh said the NRC failed to propose anything ‘to mitigate impacts’ of logging on these areas.

This koala didn’t survive the Black Summer fire in Ellangowan State Forest.

‘Surely there should at least be a moratorium on logging in or near burnt high quality koala habitat until koala populations have been assessed as recovered from the fires,’ he said.

‘It is particularly concerning that the NRC has not reconsidered its decision in 2016 to over-ride the advice of the EPA and the government’s Expert Fauna Panel that minimum retentions of koala feed trees should be 15–25 feed trees/ha greater than 25cm diameter at breast height (DBH) in modelled habitat.

‘The NRC intervention to reduce the retentions to 5–10 feed trees/ha and sizes to 20cm DBH is not supported by this study.

‘Strangely the NRC have not released results from this study on koala preferences for tree sizes, instead stating their results are “consistent with previous studies at sites in northern NSW and the Sydney region that found koalas use trees ranging from 30 to 80 centimetres DBH”. This is far greater than 20cm trees.

‘This study reaffirms that koalas chose certain tree species for food, and then individual trees with relatively low amounts of toxic compounds, emphasising the need to retain all individuals of preferred feed species rather than the arbitrary 5–10 feed species per hectare specified by NRC (2016).

Cartoon by Melany Barsony.

‘The NRC are playing “Russian Roulette” with koalas as many of the minimal trees retained may not be suitable for feeding.

‘The study also identifies that koalas use Flooded Gum as a feed tree and Turpentine as a roost tree, yet the NRC makes no attempt to add these to the species requiring retention for Koalas.

‘The NRC were meant to review the adequacy of the existing logging prescriptions, but instead have relied upon a fundamentally flawed assessment by DPI Forestry to claim that logging has no impact on Koalas to justify not reviewing the clearly inadequate logging rules. Even though NRC admitted the impacts of the fires it similarly failed to recommend any changes to account for them. The NRC have failed koalas in their time of greatest need,’ Mr Pugh said.


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1 COMMENT

  1. WTF ? NATURAL RESOURCES COMMISSION…how dare they spread these deliberate lies & total bull. I am a Koala rescuer & moved to this beautiful region some 4yrs ago & have been a wildlife rescuer for 15yrs. Also volunteered to plant Koala trees since I moved here, point being I have seen with my own eyes the increasing risk to Koalas /diminishing habitat and increased cases of Chlamydia. This awareness & experience has shocked & angered me for a multiplicity of reasons. The Forestry Industry , NRC (their name says every thing) Environment Depts both state & federal , have sold Blinky out and they willingly continue to do this. There is at least 40 yrs of evidence from NGO’s & independent scientists documenting the increasing decline & ill health of Koala populations along the east coast. THE VESTED INTERESTS WHO DON’T GIVE A CRAP ABOUT BLINKY & FAMILY CONTINUE TO ‘RESEARCH’ populations into extinction. THEY TOO ARE FULLY AWARE THAT KOALA POPULATIONS ARE IN SHARP DECLINE & HAVE BEEN SO WAY BEFORE THE UNPRECEDENTED BUSHFIRES OF 2019-20. This argument re deluding the Australian public (smoke & mirrors campaign) is all about providing loggers with unsustainable trees (native forests) until there is none. It’s also about granting farmers everything they want , as votes are always more important than our endangered & long suffering wildlife, who unfortunately can not vote. The mature old gum trees provide the best nutrition for Koala populations & also provide tree hollows for a plethora of other species, but unfortunately these take 100yrs & more to develop. How many of these giants are left, bugger all. We have seen for decades that Govt’s can not be trusted to actually do what most of the citizens want, they are answerable ONLY to the rich & powerful who determine govt policy & funding. OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM HAS LONG BEEN BROKEN & AFTER ALL IT WAS WRITTEN BY THOSE ELITE POWERFUL/CORRUPT WHITE GUYS , so why would any informed person expect it to work for those at the bottom of the totem pole? OUR PRECIOUS WILDLIFE DOESN’T EVEN GET A LOOK IN AT THE BOTTOM OF THAT TOTEM POLE…..this breaks my heart & TRAUMATISES MANY OTHER WILDLIFE CARERS LIKE MYSELF. We have compassion fatigue & have to witness this carnage & destruction at the front lines. I can’t see this ongoing tragedy improving anytime soon, but we must continue to do what we can for the dimishing willdife in our own region.These incredible/vitally important & beautiful native species deserve OUR best intentions & are relying on the little we can do for them, until people stop voting for the LNP. Then the next challenge that will evolve is to get the ‘next lot’ to do a lot better than the last lot in Govt….. I often despair but we can not give up. WE MUST ATTEMPT TO SAVE BLINKY BILL & FAMILY , by doing this many other native species may just survive too. I have to say I feel ashamed at this point in time to be Australian.

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