Staying quiet on koalas

While awaiting further detail from the NSW government on the koala logging exclusion areas and their revised Threatened Species Licence prescriptions, an interesting aspect of the $millions from the Biodiversity fund is the history of some of those involved in the rumor/claim that planting trees on agricultural land will help koalas.

Chair of the NSW Scientific committee in 2007, when they rejected the koala nomination but acknowledged die-back was a threat, was Professor Lesley Hughes. Soon after the determination the Department of Primary Industries/Forests NSW representative Dr Jim Shields left the committee and was replaced by Dr Rod Kavanagh.

Recent changes have led to the removal of state government employees from the NSW Scientific committee, although, the Koala Research Network, a University of Queensland based ‘think-tank’ held a workshop earlier this year and the summary indicates Rod Kavanagh attended as private consultant.

The other day a contact in the Southern Rivers CMA told me it was Rod Kavanagh who spoke to the various local land-care groups etc, somehow convincing them that because trees planted around Gunnedah are used by koalas, sometimes only ten years after planting, the same would occur on the degraded granite derived soils of the Bega Valley.

The issue being that trees grown on the ‘heavy black’ and occasionally ‘softer red’ basalt derived soils of the Liverpool Plains are the only place in NSW where planted trees are known support koalas.

Back to Professor Hughes who in early 2011 was appointed to the prestigious Climate Commission, headed by Dr Tim Flannery and in November last year, linking her to the CMA funding, was also appointed to the ‘independent’ Land Sector Carbon and Biodiversity Board advising Environment Minister Tony Burke on Biodiversity fund priorities.

While it would be reassuring to think the NSW gov was holding back on talking about any as yet unannounced positive aspects of their proposal, given the advice they are relying on to restore koala habitat, staying quiet may be more sensible.

 

 

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