Responding to the complaint about logging in Glenbog SF, Forestry Corporation NSW have acknowledged it does not employ KBS floristic assemblages to identify rainforest, as required under its Threatened Species Licence. In a frank, but vaguely disturbing letter, Mr Lee Blessington states FCNSW utilises its Research Note 17(RN17), to identify and protect rain forest.
While ignoring licence conditions is, apparently, not an issue for FCNSW, the level of accuracy achievable employing RN17 is an issue.
According to Mr Blessington, the KBS floristic assemblages are ‘course’, whereas its forest typing is based on Aerial Photography Mapping, with groundtruthing that ‘more accurately reflects actual on ground rainforest’.
He goes on to say that the modeled cool temperate rainforest in Glenbog, is in fact tall eucalypt forest, containing E.fastigata. E. nitens, E fraxinoides, E.viminalis, plus other associated species. At this point it’s worth noting the ‘forest types’ indicated in the logging plan are 154 and 155. White Ash (E. fraxinoides), isn’t mentioned in the description of these types so perhaps Mr Blessington has discovered a new forest type. With regard to Forest type 155, RN17 indicates ‘ Rainforest species including Coachwood, Sassafras and Negrohead Beech may occur in the understorey.’
This raises the issue of how FCNSW define rainforest, because on the tablelands RN17 only refers to ‘Pinkwood’ (Eucryphia moorei) rainforest. Whereas the KBS groudtruthing found other species were more indicative of rainforest. Pinkwood occurred at the same low frequency as large Brown -barrel (E. fasitgata) in rainforest, arguably what FCNSW are really after. Mr Blessington concludes that any change made to rainforest mapping has no impact yield estimates, or the net harvest area, but he doesn’t answer my question about changes to forest types.
For example, the map above shows Forestry’s first forest type mapping in Tanja State Forest, part of its 1988 Environmental Impact Statement, also devised using aerial photo interpretation. It lumps forest types together into ‘forest leagues’, and suggests rainforest is within eucalypt types. Later on, in 1993, Forestry logged Cpt 2102, in Tanja SF, but didn’t identify any rainforest. Then the KBS mapping came along, finding some 21 hectares of rainforest in Cpt 2102 and adjacent Cpt 2104.
This was a reduced area because the initial mapping was deemed over generous, as many areas were found to be “bell miner colonies, with dead or dying eucalypt canopies over a dense shrub and vine understorey”.
Later still FCNSW released it’s logging plan, approved by current Manager Daniel Tuan, with the latest forest type mapping for these compartments, as indicated below. This map provides for a new forest type ‘Lillypilly’ that has swelled out to 33 hectares, along with close to five hectares of ‘Viney scrub’, where RN17 indicates ‘Economic species are usually rare or absent, even as regeneration’. So I’m looking forward to another letter from FCNSW, with regard to Bodalla SF.
The EPA haven’t responded to requests about how its inquiries into Glenbog are progressing, although logging was suspended some weeks ago, and the loggers are yet to return.