Trees and koala measurements, for a long term future

The Forest Industry Advisory Council was launched this week, co-chaired by Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck, and Institute of Foresters Australia president Rob De Fegley. The aim is to “put in place a platform for a strong future for the industry and make sure that it’s got a sustainable resource for the long-term future.”

Perhaps at the back of the Council’s thinking are state government issues. In that regard Environment East Gippsland launched legal action in the Supreme Court on Monday alleging the Department of Environment and Primary Industries and VicForests have failed to protect the powerful, sooty and masked owls.

Closer to home the EPA advises that another incident report has been initiated, due to the complaint about Compartments 3010 and 3011 in Bodalla State Forest. I expect the rainforest has been logged here as well, but the EPA keep their cards close to the chest.

The implication is that FCNSW have been logging rainforest since at least 2007, suggesting the Regional Forest Agreement platform has not resulted in a sustainable future resource, and again raises the question of FCNSW’s ongoing certification under the Australian Forestry Standard.

bckr 96-13
Further to the koala numbers issue the map above shows koala records(n=75), from the original community surveys during 1996-97. The first Regularised Grid Based-Spot Assessment Technique (RGB-SAT) surveys (n=16) undertaken between 2007-09, and the records available from the Atlas of Wildlife (n=26), since the Corridors and Core Koala habitat project started.The hatched area on which most the records are located, is woody vegetation, growing on the Murrah soil landscape.

The original surveys, employed the SAT in combination with sweep searches, with a minimum of 30 metres between plots. This is a preferential survey method, aimed at understanding koala tree species preferences. It is arguable that more extensive Government surveys since that time have not greatly improved this understanding.

The RGBSAT surveys, like the FRAMES inventory FCNSW was supposed to implement under the RFA, is a non-preferential sampling process. However, most of the recent koala records are not the result of RGB-SAT surveys, and indeed some plots are less than 8 metres away from each other.

The use of both methods to determine koala numbers was considered in the CSIRO review of the first RGB-SAT surveys, and it stated ‘estimation of population size is strongly affected by preferential sampling’.

There may be more records from the current project that are yet to be made available, but as it stands, claims koala numbers have doubled are suspect at best. With regard to claims of a new koala population, the Atlas records indicate 4 in Tanja SF and 5 in Mimosa Rocks NP. These records suggest 2 or maybe 3 koalas, that may all be males.

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