This week as New South Wales eased its Coronavirus restrictions, 10 concerned community members went out to Myrtle State Forest located just an hour south of Casino in Northern NSW.
Logging is planned to commence in this forest in the coming weeks. On 3 March 2020 the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) approved the Forestry Corporation to undertake logging of burnt Koala habitat in three State Forests on the Richmond River lowlands.
“This is the hidden epidemic” says Ruth Rosenhek, a psychotherapist and environmental activist. “These forests have already been hit hard by decades of logging, drought and more recently the bushfires which devastated 83% of the high quality Koala habitat across the Banyabba koala population with estimates of 80-90% of Koalas being lost from burnt forests
And yet still Forestry Corporation wants to further decimate these forests spelling the utter demise of residents of these fragile ecosystems such as the koalas, squirrel gliders and phascogales.
While we stayed carefully social-distanced, we most certainly did not remain at arm’s length from the trees both burnt out and still standing as we looked for evidence of the now ‘vulnerable’ listed NSW koalas. In a brief look we found Koala scratches on a number of trees, showing that at least some Koalas had survived the fires. We will be returning for a better look.
How tragic that while citizens of our communities keep themselves safe within our homes and dutifully follow governmental regulations, there is no proper moratorium on the logging of these precious remaining public native forests. At the very least given the failure to account for the landscape scale impacts of recent forest on the Koala population, a full assessment of the damages of the fires needs to be conducted before any further activities.
However, like an immune system that can handle no more, these lowland Spotted Gum forests need rest, rain, and care. With most Koalas killed they need time to recover and rebuild their populations, not a second wave to take out the survivors.
The group held banners saying “Forests4Ever” as they chanted ‘Enough is Enough!’
The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) urges the 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. As shown by this example, Ms Rosenhek argues 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”.
The above is a Press Release from the North East Forest Alliance – Sunday 17 May 2020.