Koalas in a political environment

The South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA), after many weeks silence on the issue, have placed a petition to Tony Burke on their website stating “ Koalas, our national icon is at risk of extinction from loss of habitat being cleared for development and by logging.”

What the NSW Scientific Committee said was “Koalas in the area of the nominated population are threatened by ongoing degradation in the quality of their habitat because of extensive canopy dieback, clearing due to rural residential development and commercial forest harvesting.”

At a broader scale SERCA’s ongoing misrepresentation of the threats to koalas seems to be associated with a ‘split’ in the conservation movement. Between those in Victoria, with memories of the last big fires still fresh and who acknowledge, along with logging, the ‘natural’ negative impacts on forests and those in NSW who go to extraordinary lengths to ignore them.

SERCA go on to suggest “Here on the Far South Coast, NSW, woodchipping is continuing, and bringing our last 30-50 coastal koalas closer to extinction. These are one of only two remaining groups of the Strezelecki geno-type koalas.”

Nothing wrong with that except, in FNSW’s most recent Harvesting Plan (Cpt 611), one third of the non-sawlog trees to be cut down are to be sold as firewood. Also from an environmental perspective and where one trusts the federal government is coming from, the last coastal koalas are also the last in the South East Corner Bioregion, half the area of which (approx-1.3 million ha.)  is in Victoria.

The petition concludes with pleas to “1. Please declare Koalas as Vulnerable, now”, although the delay in Burke’s announcement was clearly aimed at not listing all koalas as vulnerable by excluding the translocated ‘island koalas’, because they require different management.

The petition finishes with an agreeable second plea to “Reinstate the Environment, Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) to cover Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) which cover State Forest logging.” To achieve this outcome SERCA would also need  talk about the state’s government’s failure under the RFAs, to maintain biodiversity in National Parks due to dieback.

While there is evidence of broadscale environmental degradation in the form of dieback, there is no evidence to demonstrate that being silent on the issue will help stop logging.






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