Politics, Science/Environment

“Melinda Pavey is wrong when she says you can’t log where there are koalas” – BEC

In the Oxley candidate’s forum in Bellingen last week, Melinda Pavey stated that you can’t log where there are koalas. This is not true.

By the Bellingen Environment Centre

“As a Minister in a government that passed new logging laws late last year, Ms Pavey should know that” said Bellingen Environment Centre spokesperson Ashley Love . Her statement was made in response to a question about her support for the Great Koala National Park – a proposal to protect 175,000 hectares of state forests to protect two important koala populations and vital koala habitat. Ms Pavey has repeatedly opposed the park, despite a 50% decline of koala populations on the north coast in just the last 20 years.

A North East Forest Alliance State Election flyer

Here’s what the new logging laws do for koalas and public forests:

* Establish a 140,000 hectare ‘intensive harvesting zone’ between Taree and Grafton – including many forests in the Great Koala National Park (GKNP). This zone contains 39% of all the prime koala habitat – as mapped by the NSW government – in north coast state forests. Loggers will be able to clearfell 45 hectare patches of forests in a single go, leaving either 5 or 10 trees of just 20cm diameter per hectare for koalas depending on what the map says1. The intensive harvesting zone couldn’t be better designed to wipe koalas out!

* Outside the intensive zone – in the Orwellianly-named ‘selective harvesting zone’ – the new laws approximately double the intensity of logging. This will destroy the ecological value of these forests.

* They reduce the extent of streamside buffers in head water streams from 10m to 5m, opening up areas that haven’t been logged for over 20 years. These areas are vital refuges for koalas in extreme weather, and very important for koala movement in the landscape.

* They open the way for ‘remapping and rezoning’ of old growth to access the last big timber. As with the stream buffers, these areas, protected for many years are the best habitat left – for many species, not just koalas.

* They allow the logging of giant trees of 140 cm diameter – or 160cm in the case of blackbutt, which is heavily favoured by the timber industry. This shows you that the industry anticipates big trees to be freed up from the rue changes.

Loggers are supposed to “visually assess each tree for koalas immediately prior to it being felled”, so clearly you can log where there are koalas. But no longer do loggers have to undertake targeted pre-logging surveys for koalas in north coast forests” Mr Love said .

The GKNP logo

“It’s completely delusional to think that a quick visual assessment is going to stop koalas being killed in logging operations. Koalas are hard to find!” Mr Love added .

Want a concrete recent example of how Ms Pavey’s assertion is wrong? Look no further than Wang Wauk state forest. Part of Wang Wauk was identified by the government environment department as occupied by koalas (a so-called ‘koala hub’) said the BEC spokesperson. A government that was serious about protecting koalas would place these hubs off limits. But instead the Wang Wauk hub was heavily logged last month. You can see the before and after images here.

“It’s not just environment groups that think logging is destroying forests,” Mr Love said . “Here’s how a member of the government-appointed Threatened Species Expert Panel summed up the new logging laws and the intensive harvesting zone,;”

“I find it extremely frustrating to try and contribute to a solution when the underlying driver of the wood supply agreements fundamentally restricts any chance of a balanced approach and I can see the environment being the inevitable loser in the equation”.

“This remake is an interventionist approach to remedy a situation that has evolved through poor and desperate practices adopted to meet an unsustainable wood supply agreement at significant expense to the environment and the people of NSW.”

“The intensive harvesting zones are being formally introduced to prop up an unsustainable wood supply arrangement at the expense of the environment.”

“It must be clearly understood that these proposed intensive harvesting practices are effectively clear felling diverse native forest to replace with even age native plantations in a deliberate manner.”

“… Removal of standing trees below a basal area of around 18-20m2/ha4 will reduce the structure of these native forests to such a simple form that the ecological processes will be severely diminished or non-functioning. Even in the best-case scenario it will take many decades or even centuries of recovery for any level of native forest ecological function to be restored after this intensity and scale of impact.”

“This is why we need the Great Koala National Park. Despite what Ms Pavey says, the new logging laws will kill koalas and destroy their homes” added Mr Love.

The GKNP is supported by the ALP and The Greens in Oxley and Coffs Harbour and by Independents Sally Townley and Ann Leonard in Coffs Harbour too.

The above is a Press Release from the Bellingen Environment Centre, Monday 14 March 2019.


Labor has come out on top in an AAP Fact Check Investigation on claims by NSW Coffs Harbour candidates Tony Judge (Labor) and Gurmesh Singh (Nationals) around the plight of koalas in NSW.

Mr Judge’s claim that “if we don’t do something by 2050 koalas are going to be extinct” was found to be mostly true ( = “mostly accurate, but there is a minor error or problem”).

Mr Singh’s opposing claim that “scientific evidence” shows the number of koalas “are far higher than they have been in the past” was mostly false ( = “mostly false with one minor element of truth”).

It’s great to see that we don’t yet live in an entirely post-truth world, but we really need our leaders to start taking the plight of koalas seriously if we’re to avoid being the generation that let them go extinct.

Read the article for the full story:https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/aap/article-6825189/Nationals-koala-numbers-laid-bare

4 Comments

  1. The lead story in this morning’s Advocate is that the Koala Park will cost two thousand jobs but I’ve yet to see any hard data to support these claims. I find it ironic that the National Party, who have been representatives in this area for more than fifty years where the unemployment rates are some the highest in the nation, are suddenly concerned about jobs. That’s good because for the record they’re not very good at producing them. They are, however, very good at protecting big concerns like Mining, Fracking and the Multinational Cotton Industry which played a primary role in the Murray Darling Menindee Fish Kill. They have an appalling record for supporting the environment which is one of the strongest draw cards for regional tourism and a major producer of jobs. I do believe in spite of recent climate events, they remain Climate Skeptics and support the plans for new Coal Fired Power plant that will take ten years and will be outdated on completion.

  2. Marilyn Allan

    Saving our Koalas at this point in time is rather important – mining is not. Just get your priorities right please. A complete overview of how we treat our native animals, the water systems and how we manage the land is critical. The climate has changed and here’s the bad news – it’s NOT GETTING BETTER!

  3. Julie Williams

    The LNP have their heads stuck in the past. It will be too late when the koala habitats are wiped out. A koala park provides protection for fauna and safeguards sensitive environmental areas for future generation.

  4. Marilyn Allan

    We want the Grand Koala Park so one day if there’s none left anywhere else we can show we cared and we have Koalas thriving in our neighbourhood.

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