In late November 2021, a leaked report revealed that the independent report (on the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval) from the Natural Resources Commission’s (NRC) to the NSW government to stop logging areas hardest hit by the Black Summer bushfires had been ignored. Once again the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) are calling on the government to heed the report and stop logging in NSW’s fire-ravaged forests.
‘We are calling upon the new environment Minister, James Griffin, to fulfil his responsibilities and immediately implement the NRC minimalist recommendations to reduce the risks of logging compounding the massive impacts of the 2019-20 fires, including on koalas,’ NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
Logging rules changed
‘It is now over six months since the NRC advised the Ministers for Environment and Foresty to immediately tell the Forestry Corporation to implement their recommendations, until the logging rules were changed.’
Mr Pugh has said instead of implementing NRCs recommended changes it has been ‘back to business as usual’ for the Forestry Corporation.
‘The Forestry Corporation rampage through forests knowingly and intentionally causing serious and irreversible harm to forests and species severely affected by the 2019–20 fires while Ministers refuse to do their duty and stop Forestry’s excesses.
NRC recommended that logging stop immediately
‘The NRC recommended that logging stop immediately in Taree Management Area because of the extreme risk logging would cause serious and irreversible harm, a month later Forestry started logging the only unburnt State Forest (Yarratt) and they are still at it,’ explained Mr Pugh.
‘In burnt parts of the Casino Management Area the NRC recommend that Forestry protect some unburnt and lightly burnt forests in temporary Fire Offsets for three years post-fire. Additionally, because of the widespread burning of hollow-bearing trees, the NRC recommended the retention of additional mature trees where there are less than eight hollow-bearing trees per hectare remaining, and the retention of the next 16 “largest (recruitment) trees” per hectare as potential future hollow-bearing trees.
‘Camira State Forest (near Whiporie) is the only one where Forestry have pretended to comply, though as proof they are bereft of any shred of ecological integrity they have put aside the most heavily burnt and logged areas in Fire Offsets, while intending to log most of the four per cent of the forest that escaped the worst of the fires.
Preliminary inspection reveals koalas present
‘Worse still the Forestry Corporation have re-released their 2019 logging plan for the koala hotspot of compartments 6 and 7 Braemar State Forest and their 2020 logging plan for Myrtle State Forest, without any attempt whatsoever to apply the NRC recommendations.’
NEFA says that since the fires they have undertaken surveys to identify places where koalas survived the fires in Braemar and Myrtle State Forests, which are now proposed for logging instead of protection as Fire Offsets.
Seventy-five per cent were killed
‘Some 75 per cent of the already depleted koalas in the Banyabba Area of Regional Koala Significance, covering the Richmond lowlands, were killed in the 2019–20 fires, along with tens of thousands of koala feed trees,’ said Mr Pugh.
‘And now the Forestry Corporation are intent on attacking koalas and their feed trees in their remaining refuges.’
NEFA say they have provided details of these failures to implement the NRC recommendations to Minister Griffin and’ implored’ him to ‘please fulfil his responsibilities and take action to stop causing serious and irreversible harm to forests and koalas’.
‘Taking action to protect the ecological values of public forests is clearly in the public’s best interest, the Minister must act urgently,’ says Mr Pugh.