Koala habitat flagged for logging.
Koala habitat flagged for logging.

Outrage at logging of bushfire ravished koala habitat

LOGGING of burnt Koala habitat will be undertaken in three State Forests on the Richmond River lowlands after the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) approved the Forestry Corporation's request on March 3.

Bungawalbin, Doubleduke and Myrtle State Forests, just an hour south from Casino are home to many species struggling to recover from heinous conditions during extended drought, bushfires and generational logging practices.

North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) President Dailan Pugh said the approved logging is in parts of the 142,000 ha Banyabba Area of Regional Koala Significance (ARKS) that had 83 per cent of its modelled 71,000 ha of 'likely' Koala habitat burnt in the 2019 wildfires, with the apparent loss of 90 per cent of Koalas from burnt areas.

"We are gravely concerned that Koala populations on the north coast have crashed by 50 per cent over the past 20 years, and that the increase in land clearing and reduction in logging rules will likely see them made extinct in the wild within the next 20 years," Mr Pugh said.

Ruth Rosenhek, psychotherapist and NEFA member, attended Myrtle State Forest with nine other members to assess the landscape and seek evidence of the now 'vulnerable' listed NSW koalas.

"We want EPA to immediately withdraw their approvals for logging of Koala habitat in Bungawalbin, Doubleduke and Myrtle State Forests and do due-diligence by assessing the landscape impacts of the fires on Koalas."

Ms Rosenhek added that a moratorium is needed on further logging of populations of all species significantly affected by the fires until surveys are undertaken to assess their vulnerability.

A spokesman for Forestry Corporation said the NSW Government and EPA have identified a small number of areas where scientific assessments have found small scale selective timber harvesting can be appropriately managed within strict conditions.

"The harvesting in this forest will only be a light selective harvest and all harvested areas will be completely regenerated after harvesting," the spokesman said.

Using 'songmeters' to map the quality of koala habitat and koala occupancy across the landscape it found around 1.6 million hectares of high quality koala habitat across northern NSW.

"More than 80 per cent of the high quality habitat was not burnt or burnt at low intensity during fires over the summer and areas that were impacted are recovering well following solid rains on the north coast, producing abundant new leaves suitable for koalas," the Forestry Corporation spokesman said.

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