Politics, Science/Environment

Forestry Alliance – “Government announcement on Koalas too little, too late”

The North Eastern Forestry Alliance (NEFA) today said the Liberal Party’s commitment of $6 million to protect Koalas in north-east NSW’s and south-east Queensland is too little too late.

“If the Morrison Government really wanted to do something about Koalas then they would amend their Regional Forest Agreements to protect Koala habitat and prepare the required Recovery Plan”, NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said

A koala killed on the road in NE NSW

Most of the announced $203 million is targeted at cleaning up waste, with just $22 million allocated to dealing with Australia’s extinction crisis.

Ten million for predator proof enclosures, $6 million for WA’s Black Cockatoos, Bruny Island’s Eastern Quolls and Kangaroo Island’s endangered Dunnart, and $6 million for north-east NSW’s and south-east Queensland’s dwindling Koalas.

The Liberal’s statement ‘A cleaner environment for all Australians’ states:

$6 million will also be provided to protect the koalas of South-East Queensland and Northern NSW, with funding for hospital and research facilities at Australia Zoo, the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and the Queensland RSPCA, as well as protection and restoration of important habitat across the region.

“While the need for Koala hospitals is growing, this is primarily due to the ongoing loss and degradation of Koala habitat this Government is allowing. What is urgently needed is habitat protection and restoration.

“The Government was due to deliver a national Koala Recovery Plan in 2014 and the Koalas are still waiting.

“The Morrison Government has just signed off on the Regional Forest Agreement for north-east NSW that allows a doubling of logging intensity in Koala habitat, zones 140,000 ha of key coastal forests for clearfelling, removes the need for prelogging surveys to identify and protect Koala High Use Areas, and more than halves the Koala feed tree retention rates recommended by the Government’s own Expert Fauna Panel.

“In their submission to the new logging rules, the Office of Environment and Heritage1 (OEH) complained in 2018 that the new Koala feed tree retention rates are less than half the number and of a smaller size than proposed by the Expert Fauna Panel, commenting:

The increased logging intensity proposed under the draft Coastal IFOA is expected to impact Koalas through diminished feed and shelter tree resources. Animals will need to spend more time traversing the ground as they move between suitable trees that remain, which is likely to increase koala mortality

“In 2017 OEH2 identified 100,000 ha of Koala Hubs across NSW as “highly significant local scale areas of koala occupancy currently known for protection”, 19% of which occur on State Forests.

“Our recent assessment (Forestry Corporation Logging of OEH Koala Hubs ) of State Forests in north-east NSW found that from 2015-2018 2,546 ha of Koala Hubs (21% of the loggable area), with 590 Koala records, had been logged.

The Koala – “extinction not an option” – NEFA

“A third of the Koala Hubs on State Forests are within the 140,000 ha zoned for clear felling.

“This devastation of the best Koala habitat has been approved by the Commonwealth, and Melissa Price specifically, against our representations.

“The Liberal Party needs to realise that throwing money at a problem will not make it go away. Six million will go nowhere near fixing the damage they have allowed to Koala habitat, and are still allowing today” Mr. Pugh said.

The above is a NEFA Press release – 6 May 2018

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