Koala populations bolstered(?) – dieback still ignored

Threatened Species officer Chris Allen emerged from the woodwork this week, after a koala was found on the Tathra-Bermagui road. The koala, apparently unharmed, but with soft scats, was taken to Potoroo Palace. The Narooma News also has a press release from the Corridors and Core Habitats for Koalas project, announcing a new koala ‘population’ has been found in Mimosa Rocks National Park, where the aforementioned koala was released.

According to the press release “A 2012-14 survey titled estimates there are around 50-100 koalas living in 35,000ha between Narira Creek in the north to Bega River.” This is double the estimate from the 2007-09 surveys, and suggests people like myself would be finding more evidence of koalas. Regrettably that’s not the case, as I’ve only found one location with fresh koala scats in the past 12 months. Coincidentally, this too was in the Wapengo catchment about six weeks ago, and the scats were quite soft.

Chris Allen suggests “There is clear evidence of recovery,” although “We consider it an endangered population, we could still easily lose it. But if the current trends continue, it may increase.” On the down side “An issue for the koalas in this region is how there is relatively low suitable foliage for them to eat.“ Despite this limitation Chris Allen is “convinced that this population has adapted to this habitat.”

This is the first time, I can recall, Chris Allen has referred to an endangered population. However, the major purpose of the Corridors and Core Habitats for Koalas project is tanslocating koalas from south Gippsland to the South East National Park. There are several reasons why the NSW government could decide to put some in Mimosa Rocks NP, either as well, or instead of the South East  NP.

In my experience, and including a high level of ambiguity, Chris Allen is readily convinced of many things. It’s difficult not to feel some concern that ‘adapted to this habitat’, translates as adapted to our management, and business as usual for the government, once there are enough koalas in National Parks. This would seem particularly the case, given Chris Allen makes not mention of dieback.
3011 op map

 

Also in the Narooma news this week, was a press release from Forestry, about the commencement of logging in Compartment 3010 and 3011 in Bodalla State Forest. As it turns out, several other concerns with the Harvesting Plan for the logging have appeared. In addition to a koala record, there is the mapping of Endangered Ecological Communities, a requirement stemming from one of forestry’s recent prosecutions in the Land and Environment Court. Like the koala project this was supposed to be a joint effort, employing adaptive management, to increase the chances of getting it right.

It would appear that this has not occurred, because as indicated in the operational map for Cpt 3011, the ‘Probable EEC -not verified’ is also where the mapped rain forest is supposed to be. As this area was logged in 2007-08, it seems likely FCNSW logged either the rain forest, the EEC, or both. Consequently, there is now a bell-miner colony in the area, raising the question of whether the remaining EEC’s at lower topographies, in gullies and the like, will suffer the same post logging fate.

Along with Forestry’s non-compliance with the Regional Forest Agreement etc, these concerns are included in another complaint sent to the EPA. Not that I expect much from the EPA, but it links in with the complaint Forestry are yet to respond to, and the risk to its certification under the Australian Forest Standard .

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