The north south conservation divide – not conducive to effective campaigns

Arriving in the mail this week was the minutes of the NCC/SERCA conference, held in Bermagui early this month. The ‘Welcome to Country’ (the Yuin Nation) was delivered by Dan Morgan, apparently the only other person present concerned about the NPWS burning koala habitat.

Then a welcome from Prue Acton, SERCA, “She discussed the success of the Mumbulla Koala campaign, which gained worldwide attention, forcing NSW agencies to closely monitor the wood chip industry to protect vital koala habitat.”

An interesting perception, given the area isn’t koala habitat (wrong soils), and the operation was suspended about an hour after I asked the OE&H why it had licensed logging in Biamanga Aboriginal Place. The outcome was a rash a government documents about due diligence, with regard to the protection of Aboriginal culture and heritage. There is a connection with koalas, but SERCA are yet to get it.

On NCC’s input, ‘Developing Effective Forest Campaigns’, the minutes indicate,  “This workshop began with a discussion to discern the major issues concerning forests in the South East, which were determined to be the Eden Chip Mill and the wood chipping industry, the development of the Biomass Industry and management ethics for forests. Forest campaigns should therefore focus on limiting the impacts these problems have upon the South-East region.”

For those whose management ethics for forests aren’t based on those of the NSW agencies, do exclude the wood chipping industry, but don’t exclude a local integrated biomass industry. Lumping all of these issues together, and defining them as problems, doesn’t make much sense.

Knight creek


In contrast, on the north coast, where conservationists are more likely to challenge the agencies, the North East Forest Alliance have welcomed news of an Upper House inquiry into the Environment Protection Authority. The particular issue being the EPA’s regulation of forestry practices, including koala habitat management, in Royal Camp State Forest.

NEFA spokesperson Dilan Pugh said “We were disappointed that the EPA once again ignored our complaints about logging facilitating the spread of both lantana and Bell Miner Associated Dieback along the main creek through the area. . . . We welcome this opportunity to have the EPA’s handling of this matter investigated. Their audit was either a deliberate attempt to hide the nature and extent of breaches or an extremely shoddy, unprofessional and incompetent job. This is just one of the EPA’s audits that we harbor grave reservations about, maybe now we can find out why they are so bad”.

Now the agencies are working with FCNSW to ensure timber supplies, it makes sense to focus on limiting their impacts, and attempting to modify their ethics, with robust, site specific, environmental information. It would be helpful if the local Greens/SERCA were like minded, because it’s difficult to believe a divisive approach results in an effective campaign.


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