Saving threatened species – is the OEH up to it?

The Office of Environment and Heritage is calling for comments on its proposed amendments to the NSW Threatened Species Priorities Action Statement (PAS), part of its ‘Save our Species’ program.

Among the many issues and concerns is the categorisation employed in the program. Namely, site-managed species, iconic species, data-deficient species, landscape-managed species, partnership species and keep watch species. Depending on one’s perspective, koalas, one of only four iconic species, could fit under all of these categories, or management streams as they are referred to. Certainly when it comes to public forest management, koalas have historically been managed at a site level, when located.

As indicated in the shot below of fresh koala faecal pellets, probably a male, going into the bush and looking is the only way to quickly confirm koalas still exist. While the OE&H has previously located koalas with relative ease, implementing community monitoring and taking on a plausible understanding of why the species only exists, in a few coastal forests, remains difficult for them.

 

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In associated news the SMH reported on a ‘bitter row’ that has developed in the OE&H over vegetation mapping. It appears several million dollars of funding were poured into automated satellite mapping, even though its accuracy is poor. Back in 2012 the Greens submitted an FOI request for an internal report on the mapping, but the OE&H claimed it didn’t exist.
The article quotes NSW Greens’ environment spokesperson, Mehreen Faruqi saying ” . . . It is scandalous that the government did not release the Bio-Focus report when the Greens formally requested it back in 2012. This makes a mockery of the whole freedom of information process.” It could also be argued that the  ‘Save our Species’ program, given its focus on National Parks, makes a mockery of OE&H claims about providing ” . . . adequate protection,management and restoration of koala habitat; and maintain healthy breeding populations of koalas throughout their current range.”

This seems particularly the case given the SoS program is yet to consider the notion that plants, animals and soils all work together. Eliminating just one important animal will have a negative impact on every thing else – eventually.  The comment period for the PAS closes on Monday 8 February 2016.

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