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Byron Shire
February 29, 2024

NSW Koala Strategy set to fail

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D’vine was a much-loved koala. Photo Hugh NIcholson.

The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) have said that the NSW government’s Koala Strategy released last Friday is set up to fail.

The strategy ‘will do little to turn around their extinction trajectory as it is not stopping logging and clearing of koala habitat, which, along with climate heating, are the main drivers of their demise,’ said NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh.

‘The NSW Koala Strategy is set to fail because it does not fulfil the most fundamental requirement of stopping existing koala habitat from being cleared and degraded, and lacks a strategic approach to identify the highest priority lands for protection and revegetation,’ he said.

Koala killed in the fires in Ellangowan State Forest. Photo supplied.

Not enough protection in place

The best-case scenario under the strategy involves leaving 5–10 small potential koala feed trees per hectare and waiting for a koala to leave the tree before cutting it down – in core koala habitat areas – this is what the strategy proposes, according to Mr Pugh.

‘We know that koalas preferentially choose larger individuals of a limited variety of tree species for feeding, and losses of these trees will reduce populations. So, protecting and restoring feed and roost trees is a prerequisite for allowing populations to grow on public lands,’ explains Pugh.

Call to stop clearing koala habitat in Cherry Tree State Forest. Photo supplied

Protecting public land essential

The importance of protecting public land through projects like the proposed Great Koala National Park and Sandy Creek Koala Park south of Casino are key if real protections and recovery plans are to be put in place.

‘The most important and extensive koala habitat we know of in NSW is in the proposed Great Koala National Park, encompassing 175,000 hectares of State Forests south of Grafton and west of Coffs Harbour. Similarly on the Richmond River lowlands the most important and extensive area known is the proposed Sandy Creek Koala Park, encompassing 7,000ha of State Forests south of Casino. These are public lands that we know are important koala habitat that need to be protected from further degradation if we want to recover koala populations,’ says Mr Pugh.

This koala and her joey are very vulnerable to being hit by cars crossing roads. Photo supplied.

Koala Wars

‘There are many other areas of important koala habitat on State forests in need of identification and protection from logging. The centrepiece of the NSW Koala Strategy is to spend $71 million on private lands, buying properties and implementing conservation agreements over [a total area of] up to 22,000 hectares.

‘This will not compensate for the Liberals’ promises to the Nationals, as peace terms in the 2020 Koala Wars, to remove the requirement to obtain permission before clearing core koala habitat, to end the prohibition on logging core koala habitat, to open up all environmental zones for logging, and to stop core koala habitat being added to environmental zones.

‘Throwing money at piecemeal protection of private land, while allowing some of the best koala habitat to be cleared and logged will not save koalas.

‘Similarly, their strategy to spend $31.5 million to restore and plant new koala habitat could help, but only if they first stopped clearing and logging existing koala habitat.

‘Rather than the proposed piecemeal approach, what we need for private lands is for the government to fund local councils to prepare comprehensive Koala Plans of Management (KPOM) that identify where the core koala habitat and important linkages are, and then to direct funding to best protecting those lands.’

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  1. I support the often enthusiastic response over koala conservation from private land-owners.
    They protect their koalas extremely well, but what they don’t want is interference over this management from people like NEFA or government.
    State forests were instituted solely to provide timber for domestic needs and managed as a renewable resource.
    With home-building costs increasing by 30% recently, we need evert bit of timber we can harvest.

  2. So where’s our plantations planted 30 , 40 years ago on already cleared and eroding flat land ? Why keep logging slopes and hills that were logged 30 , 40 years ago. Thinning forest so it’s more bush fire prone in dry years and more erosion and deluge runoff in wet years . ( making floods worse) . Just making pasture underneath the thinned state forest trees so cattle can be grazed . Let the sun in. That’s the priority. Poles , wood chip and cattle . Not big trees and under story soaking up rain. Protect the canopy . Always protect the canopy . Less chance of wildfire .

    • Strip clearing. You harvest 20 year apart and you go around the really big ones.
      The timber plantations are in Queensland. They are privately owned and have been there for almost a century.
      Nice straight pine trees for making lumber.

  3. Sure, log a few of your own trees if you need to. But selling them to a logger, or anyone else , well that’s another story isn’t it

    • Why is selling surplus timber ‘another story’ Phil ?
      I’m sure we would be interested to learn why you feel that that is so reprehensible.
      Plantation farms are a business – timber/logs are needed for house frames/flooring etc. so sustainable harvesting helps their financial “bottom line”.
      Far better that the timber we use is harvested in Australia, rather than the heavy reliance [as currently] on huge lumber imports from SE Asia/PNG etc., where the logging practices are often very poor environmentally and socially.

    • I let a logger have a go at my forest once. Never again, and you get jack for it.
      I can saw my own timber for my own use. Just need to kick the tree rats off first.

  4. At least just the steep slopes and near the creeks. Leave it alone. It’s common sense. Most farmers do that anyway. It’s just a few, maybe new to the game, that make mistakes. And 5 years later go,”ooops, better not do that again”. To late mate . You already did it. Dumbo. …..Look at that mudslide coming down the hill wiping out that fence line there. . Learn I guess. Off the old guys. .Ask the neighbours . Coz they already made the mistakes and are now trying to do the right thing. But after saying that , there should be no forcing , arm twisting . You get nowhere by forcing people. Just a suggestion of, “This is the preferred option”. . Also depends if it’s 10 acres, 100, 1000, 10,000 acres. Different strategies on different size places. Eg: A 20 acre farm that’s half cleared flats and half forested hills. You should still be able to take a tree or 2 occasionally for your own use. Leave the steep slopes for erosion control. Logger comes in and goes for the best 20 or 30 trees and butchers the rest of the slope getting them. Leaves a mess , fire hazard, and gives you about 20 – 50 bucks a tree. It’s not worth it for the damage 5 to 10 years later the whole lot mud slides down and wipes out your fences and sheds, roads doing 10 to 30 grand damage. He doesn’t care , he’s already gone. …. And I’m not knocking loggers . They just trying to survive the way they’ve been taught. There must be a better way tho, musnt there ? Native tree plantations. Not just northern hemisphere trees. Good hard long lasting Aussie trees.. For local farms, black butt is a good local tree to cut for timber . Koalas don’t eat them. They come up everywhere, like a bloody weed. You can’t stop them. They take over. Grow fast and fall over about 60 years old. So you log them about 30 to 50 years old. ( a pine tree is about 30 y o) They’re a menace near houses , sheds , caravans etc. Don’t stand under them in a big wind. They’ll kill you. Drop heaps of 2 to 4 inch branches 5 to 15 foot long, that come down like a spear and spear into the ground a foot sometimes . The original widow makers . On a farm , these are the ones to get first. The preferred log tree. They’re good above the window sill. From the window sill , up,, they’re perfect . Good wall and roof timber . Below the window , turpentine , tallow,, iron bark, stringy bark , cypress pine , teretacornis ( like a siver gum) these are tougher trees , anti termite, long lasting. Don’t rot, . Good for poles and below floor timber . Rated 50 years plus , in ground . 20 years ago I salvaged some timber from an old Lismore house built in 1910.. They were giving it away . Rock hard . The termites had been and gone . I had to drill every nail hole. Not easy, but that sheds going nowhere , probably last longer than the house. It was easy pickings back then , but it isn’t now. They could’ve planted plantations back then but they didn’t . So isn’t it about time someone did something about it to make it better for all? Rather than all this bickering , us against them. The decisions big gov makes exactly targets that divide. They want us to be bickering so we don’t focus on what they’re really doing. Which at the moment , is selling it all overseas to the highest bidder. They don’t really care about any area specifically. Just their own area ( in the city or suburbia usually ) . If their wife’s fashion and art class wants to save the trees in the loacal park , well they’ll put a stop to it if they can. ……// As far as the land goes, we kind of have a responsibility to our kids and grand kids , to leave them something that’s in better condition than when we became the custodians, the owners of it, for a brief time . Our decisions reverberate down through the generations. Prosperity for our family or despair and degredation. You have to think in centuries , not just years and decades . Then you understand. Europeans learnt off the Romans, a greedy war monger ing bunch .That all the profits go to the senators and nobility . The average worker is just a slave . ( Sound familiar) not much has changed has it ? Northern hemisphere land practises , over a long period of time, don’t work here in oz. The land and soil are heaps different . Softer , shallower , more fragile soils. The climate is different . Tougher , hotter and more extreme. It pays to work it but you have to be careful. I’m shuttin up now, I talk to much. 🙂

    • All very true, all very good.
      Two points though.
      Paragraphs are a virtue, and 20 acres isn’t a farm, it’s a veggie patch.


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