Environmentalists have called for an immediate stop work in the Lower Bucca Forest.
They have also called for the activation of the Myrtle Rust Action Plan emergency rescue provisions following the first week of logging under the new coastal logging rules in an unburnt remnant of Lower Bucca State forest which they argue has caused mayhem in the forest.
“The first week’s logging in the forest has destroyed core koala habitat and critically endangered and endangered plant species in a valuable forest remnant that remained unburnt in the recent widespread fires,” stated Ashley Love from the Bellingen Environment Centre.
The logging in Lower Bucca State Forest commenced in a section of forest recognised as high quality koala habitat that contains a high proportion of Tallowwood and Grey Gum trees, preferred food trees for koalas.
“The Lower Bucca State Forest is the core habitat of one of the koala populations identified in the proposed Great Koala National Park. The koala habitat values of the forest have also been confirmed by a range of Government studies.” said the BEC spokesperson.
It is clear that the logging strategy is to remove the majority of suitable large and moderate sized Tallowwood (below) and Grey Gum trees for sawlogs and to push over or damage most of the remaining trees to create a slash bed for later burning.
The retention exclusively of Blackbutt for seed trees will produce a regrowth forest that is far less suited to koalas.
The preference for a future Blackbutt dominated forest is clearly stated in the Harvest Plan for the Lower Bucca State Forest which states;
“… the objective is to implement a regeneration harvesting treatment to establish a new vigorous blackbutt stand”
It is quite obvious that the removal and damage of the Tallowwood and Grey Gum component of the forest through the logging operation is far more damaging to the habitat for koalas than the retention of a few small, scattered and often damaged habitat trees.
Surveys by environmentalists at the end of the first weeks logging searching a small patch of the forest also recorded 15 specimens of the critically endangered Scrub Turpentine (Rhodamnia rubescens) following.At least six of the plants, which are a priority for emergency rescue provisions of the Myrtle Rust Action Plan, had been destroyed or damaged
“Scrub turpentine is highly susceptible to the damaging Myrtle Rust, an introduced fungus, and the trees and shrubs in Lower Bucca State Forest were showing signs of strong recovery from earlier infection . Those trees that may survive the logging onslaught are potentially exposed to risk of re-infection, reinforcing the call for a stop work to assess and mitigate the damage, salvage valuable plant material and to ensure further plants were not at risk”. said Ashley Love
The Forestry Corporations pre-logging surveys- those few that remain under the new Integrated forestry operations approvals (IFOA) logging rules, are from the assessment of this first operation clearly inadequate and need urgent review claimed the Bellingen Environment Centre.
“As well as missing the critically endangered Scrub Turpentine The Forestry Corporations pre-logging surveys also failed to locate a range of endangered species including the rusty plumb (Niemeyera whitei) and slender marsdenia ( Marsdenia longiloba). The pre-logging surveys are like doing a survey for bull ants from the back of a moving truck – not very effective,” said the Bellingen Environment Centre spokesperson.
This early evidence clearly indicates that far more of the threatened species will be missed than sighted added Mr Love.
“The new IFOA logging rules have dismally failed at the first log dump,” Ashley Love said..
“After two unsuccessful requests to the Forestry Corporation to stop work, we are calling on the Hon Matt Kean Minister for Energy and Environment implement a stop work order on logging operations in the Lower Bucca State Forest under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 until the wide range of issues we have raised can be fully reviewed.” said Mr Love.
The above is a Wednesday 1 April 2020 Press Release from the Bellingen Environment Centre.
For a broader story on logging of unburnt NSW State Forests see; https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/15/state-mps-dismayed-at-nsw-forestry-logging-unburnt-habitat-after-bushfires