After briefly attending the OE&H’s koala information session last Tuesday, it was a clear changing management to help koalas is not on the agenda. Rather, the intention is to continue current approaches, based on Forestry’s koala management plan (1997), even though they don’t help koalas.
One of the non-regional OE&H representatives did explain that there is no connection between the ‘Iconic Koala Project’ (IKP) and other aspects of the Saving our Species program. However, he hadn’t heard of extensive canopy die-back and was not aware that the NSW Scientific Committee has acknowledged it as a major threat to local koalas.
This lack of information stems directly from regional OE&H staff, attempting to cover up the fact that a reduction in forest cover has compromised regional conservation objectives.
Naturally there were representatives of several conservation groups at the session.
As I understand it, their objective is to end logging or woodchipping or both. Regrettably, because the OE&H are seen as friends, mentioning extensive canopy die-back, or criticizing its management, doesn’t happen. So while every thing is claimed to be OK in National Parks, unsustainable logging continues elsewhere.
Also attending the session was former forester Vic Jurskis. Vic has been instrumental in providing the Forestry Corporation with its all encompassing theory about die-back. Indeed if it wasn’t for Vic’s theory, we wouldn’t know koalas are always associated with unhealthy forests.
According to the theory, regular burning of forests will make them healthy again. The only downside is, according to the theory, this will get rid of koalas.
There is only one mention of local koalas in the IKP pamphlet, namely –
” . . . Fire management planning and monitoring for southern NSW koala populations to maximise protection of human assets and koala habitat.”
This appears to be the only management strategy and because it doesn’t address the major known threat, is unlikely to help koalas.