Draft parks plan – not proactive enough for koalas

The OE&H have released the draft management plan for Biamanga and Gulaga National Parks, now called the Yuin Mountains Park, and seem to be aiming to mix traditional burning with current burning across what is referred to as a ‘single landscape’.

To achieve their aim and because current logging practices aren’t welcome the management boards will continue to ” . . . proactively work to prevent activities which compromise the connectivity between the two mountains – namely Bermagui SF, part of Bodalla SF, Bermagui Nature Reserve, Wallaga State Park, Murrunna Point, Murrah SF and Mumbulla SF.”

With regard to koalas, that are important because of the tree species they eat and there’s only one other genetically similar population, ” . . . The Boards will support efforts to improve knowledge about where koalas are and what country is important for them.They will support monitoring programs that assess how they are going. The Boards will also support koala habitat rehabilitation in areas near to and between the Mountains so that koalas have more country to expand into.”

Interestingly there is reference to a soil landscape in the draft plan but not the Murrah, where koalas are. The question of what country is important for koalas within the Murrah soil landscape raises the issue of whether the plan is, or could be, in accordance with the objects detailed in the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

The plan indicates there are10 vegetation types in the parks but the species koalas eat can only be found in two of these types, ‘Tall Dry Eucalypt Forest’ and “Tall Wet Eucalypt Forest’ .

The latter type is indicated as occupying one third of the park (6096 ha) and this type also makes up a small part of the estimated 2.5 million hecatres of coastal forest in NSW that is susceptible to BMAD.

In their submission to the Native Vegetation review last year, the North Coast Environment Council pointed out that ” . . . In 2008 ‘Forest eucalypt dieback associated with over-abundant psyllids and Bell Miners’was listed as a Key Threatening Process (KTP) by the NSW Scientific Committee. The Committee’s determination required OEH prepare a Statement of Intent to address the KTP and that this Statement was required to all areas of OEH’s operations.”

Despite this OE&H failure and with the other dieback now making its ominous appearance, the plan confidently talks about carbon offsetting opportunities as a way to help protect areas connecting the mountains.

On a more optimistic note, the plan does indicate that “. . .Through its biodiversity fund the Commonwealth Government is supporting some big projects to help conserve koalas and their habitat in this land.” and the map below shows the location of the Mountain Parks within the larger (0.5million ha.) Bega and Narooma catchments, as defined by another key stakeholder, the Southern Rivers CMA.

It could be that the OE&H and the management boards may need to become a bit more pro-active, given other stakeholders and the Feds are looking over their shoulder.

yuin mtns

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