Native Vegetation Review – Koala prescriptions

The NSW Government have recently released the reviewed Native Vegetation Act  that also incorporates koala prescriptions for logging on private land.

Suggesting that ‘this is your chance to influence the outcomes of the review’, with the opportunity to comment open until Friday 24 August, the proposed prescriptions are based on false assumptions and are completely inadequate.

Full details are repeated below but, the claim that “ . . . Generally, koala habitat comprises eucalypt forest and woodland containing primary and secondary food trees” is a false assumption, stemming in part from a failure to consider the environment from a bio-regional perspective.

If there is a koala up the tree, or a faecal pellet is found, logging is not permitted within twenty meters of the tree. Outside of these areas and as local koala habitat generally comprises eucalypt forest containing only secondary feed trees, the prescriptions apparently require only five trees to be retained per hectare.

Unfortunately, only four of the known koala feed trees around here (those with asterisk below) are on the list, so it seems the review has ended up getting pretty well everything about koalas very badly wrong.

______________

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)CMAs for application of prescription

Central West, Hawkesbury–Nepean, Lachlan, Murray, Murrumbidgee and Southern Rivers

Note: Koala populations are generally sparse or of low density in the South Coast, Central and Southern Tablelands and Western Koala Management Areas (Koala Management Areas 3, 5, 6 and 7; see Figure 4) and, as a result, scats are rarely encountered. Therefore, recording of any scat or a sighting of a koala in these areas should be considered significant.

Prescription

(a) Forest operations are not permitted within any area identified as ‘core koala habitat’within the meaning of State Environmental Planning Policy No. 44 – Koala Habitat Protection.

(b) Any tree containing a koala or any tree beneath which 20 or more koala faecal pellets (scats) are found (or one or more koala faecal pellets in Koala Management Areas 3 and 5) must be retained, and an exclusion zone of 20 metres (50 metres in Koala Management Area 5) must be implemented around each retained tree.

(c) Where there is a record of a koala within an area of forest operations or within 500 metres of an area of forest operations or a koala faecal pellet (scat) is found beneath the canopy of any primary or secondary koala food tree (see Table I below), the following must apply:

(i) A minimum of 10 primary koala food trees and 5 secondary koala food trees must be retained per hectare of net harvesting area (not including other exclusion or buffer zones), where available.

(ii) These trees should preferably be spread evenly across the net harvesting area, have leafy, broad crowns and be in a range of size classes with a minimum of 30 centimetres diameter at breast height over bark.

(iii) Damage to retained trees must be minimised by directional felling techniques.

(iv) Post-harvest burns must minimise damage to the trunks and foliage of retained trees.

Additional information

Generally, koala habitat comprises eucalypt forest and woodland containing primary and secondary food trees (see Table I). Koala droppings (faecal pellets or scats) are relatively distinctive, being cylindrical and pit-shaped. Colour varies between green–yellow to yellow– brown. Scats can remain under trees on or within the leaf litter for periods of several weeks to months. For further information on the identification of koala pellets or scats, contact the EPA or refer to http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au.

Primary tree species

Cabbage gum E. amplifolia

Forest red gum E. tereticornis

Ribbon gum E. viminalis

Secondary tree species

Blue box E. baueriana

Coast grey box E. bosistoana*

Apple-topped box E. bridgesiana

Yertchuk E. consideniana*

Monkey gum E. cypellocarpa*

Woolybutt E. longifolia*

Maiden’s gum E. maidenii

Brittle gum E. mannifera

Yellow box E. melliodora

Swamp gum E. ovata

Snow gum E. pauciflora

Red box E. polyanthemos

Bastard eurabbie E. pseudoglobulus

Large-fruited red mahogany E. scias

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