Up to 19,000 hectares of forest in koala park set to be destroyed

Up to 19,000 hectares of forest in koala park set to be destroyed
Image: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht, Wikimedia Commons

Up to 19,000 hectares of forest in the Great National Koala Park have been earmarked for destruction by April next year, a new report has shown.

New analysis reveals that Forestry Corporation is trying to take as much timber as possible before the boundaries of the proposed park are finalised. Situated on the mid north coast, the park is home to one in five koalas in New South Wales.

“The fact is that this is some of the most important intact koala habitat in the state and it should be protected, not put on the chopping block, while decisions are made about the National Park,” said Jacqui Mumford, CEO of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW (NCC), the state’s leading environmental advocacy organisation.

“It is untenable that so much has been destroyed, and will be destroyed in the coming year, before these areas have been assessed,” she continued. 

The continued logging of the koala habitat also represents a broken election promise, she continued.

“NSW Labor came to power more than a year ago with a key election promise – to protect koala habitat on the Mid-North Coast of NSW, and we are still yet to see it.”

For the past year, Forestry Corporation has continued logging areas that are being considered for inclusion in the park.

After sustained community pressure, Environment Minister Penny Sharpe declared a moratorium on logging within ‘Koala Hubs’, effectively protecting 5 per cent of the proposed park.

But this is nowhere near enough for ensuring the survival of koalas, who are on the brink of extinction, said Mumford. 

“We can’t afford another year of destruction of this key koala habitat, otherwise come 2050 we might have a Great Koala National Park without any koalas.” 

“It’s long past time for the NSW Government to commit to a moratorium on logging within the proposed boundaries of the Great Koala National Park.” 

After members of community discovered that only 27 per cent of trees required to be retained for koalas were marked for protection, the NSW Forestry Corporation’s operation at Orara East State Forest, near Coffs Harbour, has been reported to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment Sue Higginson said ‘It is disgraceful, although not surprising, that the Forestry Corporation has only protected a quarter of the trees that are required to be protected for koalas – especially in a forest that [NSW] Premier Minns has promised will become a National Park.’

‘This forest is critical koala habitat and the mis-identification of koala trees means that there will be far fewer trees available for this threatened species.”

“It is only thanks to the quick and diligent work of the community that this pre-logging survey has been revealed as unlawful and catastrophic for the koalas. The EPA needs to step up immediately.”

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