NPWS -hoping for koalas and EPBC Act requirements

The Bega District News recently published a couple of articles titled “National parks slash and burn: ‘Ridiculous amount of years of experience’ lost” and ” Murrah flora reserves work toward rebuilding koala population on the South Coast.”

The first article quoted a former NPWS employee suggesting job losses had reduced the capacity to undertake general duties, let alone deal with emergencies. He suggested structural reform of NPWS is aimed at privatizing the service.

The second article, from an unnamed NPWS spokesperson, indicated there was no additional funding for the reserves but the ” . . . original allocation of $2.5 million in March 2016 has allowed the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to make the first steps in the right direction.” Among these steps and in addition to the secret koala surveys, is the suggestion that ” . . . Koala habitat rehabilitation within the reserves is being researched by the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program.”

Exactly what this means isn’t clear, but it may mean the proposed management plan for the reserves, may not be released in the short term.

Not surprisingly the article doesn’t refer to the greatest threat to koalas – dieback- just ‘land clearing for urban development and logging’. Despite this omission ” . . .The hope is the koala population will grow and sightings of the native animal will increase in time.”

Of course the potential for koalas to increase in numbers is largely dependent on management that provides for this outcome. So the answer to Dawn Walker’s question on notice, pasted below is notable.

According to the EPBC Act, fire prevention activities that may require federal approval include –

one-off fuel reduction burns in remnant forest that is important habitat for nationally threatened species and has not been previously subject to burning regimes.
trial or experimental ecological burns, on a significant scale, in habitat for nationally threatened species or areas that form part of a nationally threatened ecological community.

I wonder whether a privatized NPWS may be more accountable, so key threatening processes are given due consideration. The areas subject to recent burning for example, have Bell-miners in most of the gullies. Then there is the loss of large woody debris, that may be burned, or in the case of the trees in the photo above, cut up for firewood despite the prohibition on timber removal.
1592 – Lands and Forestry – MURRAH FLORA RESERVE
Walker, Dawn to the Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, Minister for Trade and Industry representing the Minister for Lands and Forestry, and Minister for Racing
In relation to the $2.5 million allocated from the NSW Environmental Trust to Forestry Corporation of NSW for a haulage subsidy to source alternative logs following the declaration of the Murrah Flora Reserves:
how much haulage subsidy was allocated in 2015-16?
how much haulage subsidy was allocated in 2016-17?
Does the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 apply in State Forest flora reserves such as the Murrah Flora Reserves?
Answer –
Forestry Corporation has received revenue of $425,603 in 2015-16 and $413,085 in 2016-17 (July to December) from the Environment Trust under the “Protection of Koalas in Murrah Mumbulla Tanja Bermagui” project.
Question asked on 24 May 2017 (session 56-1) and published in Questions & Answers Paper No. 109
Answer received on 28 June 2017 and to be printed in a Questions & Answers Paper on 8 August 2017

  1. Cheryl Egan said:

    Hi Robert,

    Have you seen this article?



    Koalas ‘being driven towards extinction’ – CHANGING TIMES Researchers from the University of Sydney have been looking at how much koalas need free water, and whether this is a way of combatting some of the effects …


    • Hi Cheryl, No I hadn’t seen the article, so thanks for the link. I was wondering if there would be any reports on the conference. I had read about the free water experiments and have been working toward a similar approach, at a local scale and irrespective of the NPWS’s approval. Thanks again for the link.

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