Early this week NSW Labour opposition leader Luke Foley pledged to create a 315,000 hectare “koala national park”, including 170,000 of state forest on the north coast. According to the SMH, the response from the Australian Forest Products Association was a predicted loss of “3000 direct and indirect jobs”. However, the Wilderness Society were supportive, calling the proposal visionary and a big step forward for conservation.
The problem is one of perceptions, because the timber industry don’t believe logging harms koalas, and the conservation movement think koalas are safe in National Parks.
Neither of these positions are supported by solid facts, and the ongoing decline in koala numbers, on all tenures, would seem to confirm other influences at work. Most recently, estimates for the Pilliga koalas, previously suggested to be the largest population in NSW with thousands of koalas, has been reduced to perhaps less than 50 animals.
Similarly, surveys in Victoria have found ” . . . there are less than 40 koalas living on Phillip Island, a major decrease from around 1,000 living on the island in the late 1970s.”
Closer to home, the NSW Environment Protection Authority have sent an email regarding the complaints lodged back in August, about logging in Glenbog and Bodalla State Forest. Although the Glenbog complaint, where loggers were burying wombats alive, was focused on the rainforest identification issue. The Bodalla complaint was a bit broader, touching on soils, EEC’s, net harvest area, sustainable yield, forest health, koalas etc. Regrettably but the EPA, message pasted below, only addresses the rainforest issue.
So while one could assume the EPA can only do one thing at a time,or these associated matters to be the responsibility of others, there is some uncertainty whether that is actually the case. Indicated on FCNSW’s Forest Type map for the Bodalla compartment are two of the areas of concern, labelled as forest type 166, River peppermint, and forest type 219.
According to the Harvesting Plan, the area of River peppermint may, or may not contain an Endangered Ecological Community. This community, River flats eucalyptus forest, shares some of eucalyptus species, and is found in similar locations as forest type 166. Based on outcomes from the Land and Environment Court, the existence or otherwise of this state listed EEC should have been verified. Whether it was logged during 2007, has also not been clarified.
The other is the area of forest type 219 indicated in the HP as ‘To be assessed/unknown-9.7ha’.
FCNSW’s foresting typing describes 219 as “Settlements, Roads, etc.-This type is erected to cover other obviously artificial communities which cover extensive areas.” In reality most of this area has no vegetation cover, being bare eroded soil that appears to have expanded over the past 20 years, but this is apparently not a concern for FCNSW or the EPA.
If one considers these issues within the – MONTREAL PROCESS CRITERIA FOR THE CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF TEMPERATE AND BOREAL FORESTS, on which the Regional Forest Agreements are allegedly based, there remains considerable room for improvement and I expect, the need for more complaints.
Dear Mr Bertram
In August 2014, you contacted the EPA regarding the mapping of rainforest areas in Glenbog State Forest, compartments 2301, 2311,and 2321, and Bodalla State Forest, compartments 3010 and 3011. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. This email is to inform you of the outcome of our work in response to your notification.
The EPA can confirm that prior to your notification, Forestry Corporation (FCNSW) harvest plans did not explain any changes in rainforest mapping. After informing FCNSW that this information must be provided in the harvest plans, the EPA received documentation from FCNSW showing measures they will take to address the issue. The first of these documents is a guidance note for FCNSW staff. The second is an amended harvest plan template.
Having reviewed the documents provided, the EPA is satisfied that any further changes in rainforest mapping will be adequately documented in the harvest plan. The EPA will continue to monitor the mapping, mark-up and protection of rainforest areas as part of our compliance monitoring program, to ensure that similar incidents do not occur in the future.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call me.
Operations Officer – Central & South | Forestry Section | Environment Protection Authority (EPA) |