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Byron Shire
December 1, 2022

Clearfelling koala habitat at Wild Cattle Creek

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Native forest being clearfelled in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest for conversion to plantations, with part of the area already converted and planted with blackbutt. Photo NEFA.

The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is calling on the NSW Government to stop the Forestry Corporation clearfelling 68 ha of some of the best-known koala habitat in NSW and converting it into a plantation in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest.

NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said that at the same time the NSW Government is spending millions of dollars buying private land for koalas and planting trees, on public land, they are paying millions to log and clear koala habitat identified as a priority for protection by their own government.

‘This has to stop if we want koalas to survive.

Well past time that logging was stopped

‘It is well past time the NSW Government stopped logging koala habitat on public lands and stopped converting it to plantations, if they have any real intent to save them from extinction

In response to the Chief Scientist’s 2016 recommendation that NSW ‘government agencies identify priority areas of land across tenures to target for koala conservation management and threat mitigation’, in 2017 the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) analysed Koala records ‘to delineate highly significant local scale areas of koala occupancy currently known for protection’.

Mr Pugh said that across the whole of NSW, OEH identified 100,000 hectares of the most important koala habitat known as Koala Hubs, with 20,000 ha of these on State forests. ‘Since then the Forestry Corporation have been allowed to log 1,000 ha of these identified priority koala habitats.

Clearfelling high-quality koala habitat

‘And now they are in the process of clearfelling another 68ha of identified high-quality koala habitat, of which 16ha is part of a Koala Hub, and converting it to a blackbutt plantation.

‘Up until 2020 this was classed as native forest, but three years after the Koala Hub was identified, two years after being busted for logging protected koala habitat in an adjacent operation, and a few months after the 2019 wildfires devastated koala populations in the area, the Forestry Corporation had this koala habitat reclassified as a plantation based on a spurious claim that in the 1960s someone scattered some seed around.

‘Scattering seed around after logging was a common practice 50 years ago, but scattered Blackbutt seed in a natural Blackbutt forest doesn’t make it a plantation.

‘Now they can legally clearfell it, and sell the timber as plantation timber.

‘This is next door to where in June this year the Forestry Corporation were found guilty and fined $60,000 for causing harm to a koala for logging just 4 trees in a 2ha Koala High Use Area. Here they clearfelled hundreds of feed trees.’


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