Among those speaking at the recent forest forum in Tathra was NPWS’s Chris Allen, giving his ideas about koalas and their management.
In addition to his unsubstantiated belief that burning will protect koalas from wildfire, even though he apparently hasn’t seen the outcome of the fires. Allen claimed that the areas burnt were determined by the Bega Valley fire plan and the Biamanga management plan.
What he didn’t mention was the NPWS’s Enhanced Bushfire Management Program and its zoning and works map below. The map delineates areas (pink lines) the NPWS has somehow determined to be ‘preferred koala habitat’.
A clearer version of the map, indicating a large proportion of the flora reserve is not considered to be preferred koala habitat, is available at the NSW environment.gov website. It says pre-burning koala surveys may be undertaken within ‘preferred koala habitat’ or activity cells. Hence, areas with koala records or potentially koalas can be burned without undertaking any surveys.
Allen also re-iterated his logically inconsistent belief that koalas on the tablelands are an endemic population, despite the genetic differences. In order to believe this claim it is necessary to believe there was no historic interaction between coastal and tablelands koalas.
Thankfully, most of the speakers did provide realistic information and I agree ending the RFA’s and getting rid of forestry are sensible ideas.
Unfortunately, the basic assumption, that forests will keep growing into the future, is what forestry and the NPWS assume too. So its difficult to escape the conclusion that the conservation movements’ goal may be more difficult to achieve. While the threats to forests aren’t fully acknowledged or understood, it seems likely governments will do what they want.
In that regard it was a little ironic that the trees around the Tathra hall are subject to Bell-miner associated die-back, an issue that along with extensive canopy die-back, should be on the conversation movement’s agenda.
Chris Allen also suggested that the management plan for the flora reserves will be made available for public comment. I’m assuming, given the predicable response from the NPWS pasted below, some explanation will be provided to justify its change from supporting biodiversity reconstruction, to opposing it.
Dear Mr Bertram,
Thank you for your email. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is now responsible for the management of Murrah Flora Reserve.
Forestry Corporation has provided NPWS the following information about the fence;
- The fence was erected without consent of Forestry Corporation commencing in 2002.
- Forestry Corporation has never provided an occupation permit to construct or maintain the fence.
- Forestry Corporation has requested you to remove the structure in 2013 (see attachment).
Illegal encroachments will be part of the Murrah Flora Reserves Working Plan. The current version on the Forestry Corporation website is an interim plan.
It is NPWS intention to remove illegal encroachments and infrastructure from the Murrah Flora Reserve.