Conference outcomes – changing management by understanding koalas

The positive aspect of the NCC’s regional conference, at least the part I attended in Bermagui yesterday, and apart from opportunity to catch up with and meet people, was the general support for koalas. Unfortunately, the down side, is the general perception in SERCA that anything other than wood-chipping isn’t important, and understanding koalas is not seen as way to help end wood-chipping.

Now, just a month before the NSW government releases its koala management proposals in State Forests, SERCA show little interest in bringing the government to account, or alternative sustainable management, although that was clearly not the case for others attending the conference.

One of the issues raised, in conversations between proceedings, was the recent burning Biamanga NP. It appears the Biamanga/Gulaga NP management boards have put a proposal to the NPWS to implement ‘traditional’ burning in the parks. The recent burning, undertaken by the NPWS and RFS, without consulting the board/s, is thought to be a ‘get in while they can’ activity. Although not a burning of forests supporter, reducing the NPWS’s privilege to do what they want, where and when they want, would be positive outcome.

Another is a development proposal to increase the size of the Coolagolite quarry, centrally located in the NSW government’s proposed complimentary koala replanting project area, between Biamanga and Kooraban National parks, as illustrated below.

coola quarry
According to Google earth, and apart from recent logging, there has been little clearing in the area over the past 20 years.  Increasing the size of the quarry clearly detracts from the area’s suitability as a koala corridor, although this is a local council decision.

A further issue raised yesterday were concerns about logging on private land, now undertaken using a ‘self assessment’ technique that, apparently, means habitat trees are less likely to be retained. While the decision to relax the requirements for logging on private land helps explain why logging State forests here, remains in abeyance, it seems unlikely the resource will last long.

The connection with koalas is, of course, whether planted trees, or logging regrowth, will provide suitable koala habitat, so logging may be justified. After a quick summary of the issues, it appeared some at the conference were prepared to consider that this may not be the case, so perhaps SERCA will too, eventually .

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