Koalas and forest management standards

Friends of the Earth (Melbourne) have recently released a detailed report titled “Victorian Koala Issues, Plantations and Forest Stewardship Council Certification 2000 – 2014”. Like wombats here, koalas are not listed as a threatened species in Victoria, and there is, as yet, no consideration of genetic issues when it comes to management. In addition, and even though the Strzelecki/South Gippsland koalas are the only endemic population in the state, there is no scope to list these koalas under state legislation.

Much of the land in the area is either private or leasehold forestry plantations, including Hancock Victoria Plantations, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. According to the report “Many old koala scats were found at Draffens Block plantation, but no koalas were observed, leading to the conclusion that koalas had either vacated the area or had died. Apparently 20 koalas were removed from this plantation. Where were they relocated to?’

Included in the report, and possibly answering the question, is the first information on the NSW government’s involvement, undertaking koala surveys, for the proposed translocation of animals to ‘new nomination’ area, in the South East National Park. So it seems quite possible that koalas will be sourced from plantations, with FSC certification. On the positive side, locals concerned about koalas now have an understanding of the methods required to define koala habitat, and this could aid in getting more community and government input.

Interestingly the ‘activity levels’ in plots (n=150), as indicated in the map below, are generally higher than local koalas, frequently involving 40% of trees in active plots.

Strzelecki surveys
On the certification issue, a closer inspection of Forestry Corporation’s harvesting plans for Glenbog State Forest found another four compartments where rainforest had not been identified. As the inaccurate harvesting plans now involve 9 compartments, and after informing the EPA, I also sent a complaint to FCNSW’s certification body, BSI Group ANZ Pty Ltd.

In the complaint I referred to the terms of licence under the Threatened Species Conservation Act (1995), indicating Forestry Corporation NSW “ . . . . must include written justification in the harvesting plan where the extent of the rainforest shown on the harvesting plan operational map differs from the extent of the KB rainforest floristic assemblages”, and the fact that this had not occurred.

In short time there was a cheery response from the BSI contact, Mr Ross Garsden. Apparently aware of the situation in Glenbog, Ross asked me to give him a call for additional information, and to explain how they deal with complaints. While my expectations are quite low, a chat with Ross may provide the opportunity to point out some of the perhaps more important, and certainly more fundamental Australian Forestry Standard requirements, FCNSW performs poorly in.

A petition for the Glenbog wombats has been set up on the communityrun website.

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