This week the inquiry into the performance of the EPA met in Lismore, about compliance and enforcement issues in Royal Camp state forest. According to the transcript the process didn’t go too well, as Dailan Pugh, from the North East Forest Alliance, ticked the inquiry off for removing documents from its submission and changing the meeting time, in order to go on a field trip with FCNSW and the EPA.
Between Dailan and NEFA’s consultant ecologist, David Milledge, there wasn’t much, if any praise for the EPA, or Forestry. The pre-logging surveys were referred to, given FCNSW failed to find any koala scats and NEFA found lots. However, according to FCNSW’s Mr Kearney they undertook a ‘thorough’ search of the compartments. Apparently FCNSW is happy with it’s definition of thorough, coupled with its commitment(?) to continuous improvement .
Also appearing at the inquiry was Fiona Follen, from the Ballina Environment Society. Responding to a question from National Party MLC Rick Colless, Fiona suggested that quality of timber we are getting nowadays, would not be as good as it was 100 years ago. Mr Colless followed with “Maybe we are not but that is not to do with the damage that is being done to the environment; that is more to do with the growth rate of the timber on that site, is it not?”
Mr Colless then suggested the rain forest species Red Cedar (Toona australis) would not have grown in Royal Camp SF. It’s a shame he didn’t do some research, because while FCNSW didn’t identify any rain forest in the compartments, nothing new there, it did identify the ‘Inland Brush Box’ forest type, that has ‘various rainforest species in the understorey’. Below this type, in a gully, FCNSW also identified the ‘Flooded gum’ forest type. What is uncertain is whether this area was previously ‘Booyon-Coachwood’ rain forest, because as indicated in Research Note 17, “…Such sites have been extensively used for conversion to Flooded Gum in forests under intensive management.’
Later on Mr Colless suggested to one of the Forestry chaps that red cedar would not grow in that sort of country, because the soils are too poor. FCNSW agreed the majority of soils were too poor for red cedar, although as BMAD demonstrates, soils can change over time, so that neither eucalyptus or rain forest species will grow in them.
On a positive note, one of the forestry people indicated he would be happy to see a review of the broader threats to koalas across the state. Although logging isn’t considered to be among them, and it’s unclear if his happiness is an accurate reflection of FCNSW policy.
To the south the Eden Magnet reported FCNSW has trapped 24 threatened Long-nosed Potoroos, that have been relocated to Booderee National Park, at Jervis Bay. Apparently a previous attempt to trap during Autumn had not been successful, because ‘potoroo(s) had enough food available without needing to take the bait’. Things have clearly changed on the available food front, but the report indicates “FCNSW senior field ecologist Peter Kambouris said he was “delighted” with the results of the operation.”
Tony Carter, representing the traditional owners of Boodaree National Park, said “They’re a very special animal, and as a traditional owner, I feel honoured to be able to return these animals and look after them.”
I expect local traditional owners and others would have similar feelings, if FCNSW or the NPWS were inclined to relocate extinct native species back to forests in this region.
Associated with that issue, the NSW Scientific committee has made a preliminary determination to list koalas east of the highway at Tweed Heads, on the north coast, as an endangered population. It seems likely that an announcement from the committee about local koalas isn’t far off. Should that occur, it will be interesting to see what threats they list, given the agencies have problems acknowledging them, across the state.