NSW – still misleading key stakeholders on koalas?

Reporting about the ‘writing on the wall’ local ABC point to the probability that South East Fibre Exporters may not survive into the new year. Thankfully, there is some sensible input from Fed member Mike Kelly, talking about diversifying ‘the economic base of the Eden area’ and editorial comment in the Eden Magnet admitting ” It doesn’t take an Einstein to see that Eden’s days of relying on a decimated fishing fleet and a dying Australian timber industry are over.”

Regrettably State Member Andrew Constance’s comment ‘the chipmill can’t fail’  is another reminder that the State Government’s ideas about the environment tend to be ill-informed, misleading and biased.

Perhaps along those lines, the Southern Rivers CMA has invited ‘key stakeholders’, apparently those listed as attending a ‘Land and Water Summit’ held earlier this year, to a follow up session to provide comment and input into a draft Catchment Action Plan (CAP), something else that is supposed to be completed early next year. The Bega River Reserve, a park with picnic tables, has been chosen as the venue, ‘to show off an inspiring collaborative project’ and for the lucky ducks invited there’s a free lunch!

The reserve is located on the new alluvial floodplains called the Towamba River soil landscape, an area that forms part of Forests NSW 1997 koala corridors/recovery proposals.

With generally moderate fertility, it’s made up of post European ‘sediment slugs’ (eroded and deposited soil materials) and is found in all catchments to varying degrees. In the Bega river catchment the TR soil landscape occupies around 2,500 ha or just under 1.3% of the total catchment area. Soils in the other 98.7% of the Bega River catchment generally have low to very low fertility.

Clearly the TR landscape represents a very small proportion of the catchment and it seems likely that the most inspiring part of the project is that trees etc. have grown. It would be misleading to suggest all areas will support similar growth and experience indicates that within the TR soil landscape growth can be highly variable. There is little natural regeneration in these areas and where planted trees do grow, the biggest threat to their survival is the inevitable floods

Most of the information the key stakeholders get seems to comes from FNSW and the OE&H and while there are many examples, the following quote from the Koala Recovery officer, talking about the koala sighting and subsequent trial surveys, can be found in a 2007 newsletter produced by one key stakeholder, the ‘Far South Coast Conservation Management Network’. 

” . . .  The female is probably part of a breeding association. However, females are known to travel several kilometres to mate, so more viable habitat may be located around the Wapengo area.”

The map below shows koala records on the Murrah soil landscape and their proximity to the TR soil landscape in the Wapengo catchment. Based on this information, the ‘more viable habitat’ would seem to be where koalas are as opposed to where the OE&H and Forests NSW would prefer koalas to be, the location of Wapengo.





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