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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 4 March 2010
Koala colony for logging on NSW south coast: Public meeting this Monday
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: nsw govt


Last month The Sydney Morning Herald alerted urban readers to this debacle of land use policy in the 21st Century:


Logging plan poses threat to precious koala colony

BEN CUBBY January 25, 2010

LOGGING is set to start within weeks in a forest that supports the last known koala colony on the NSW far south coast.

The NSW Government is yet to release data from a comprehensive survey of koala habitat and population in Mumbulla and Murrah state forests, near Tathra, even though some trees have been marked for removal.

The two-year koala survey, which could be published this week, is believed to contain strong evidence of koala occupation in several parts of the eucalypt forest.

Sources painted a picture of fractious debate between staff from the Department of Environment and Climate Change, which managed the koala research effort, and Forests NSW, the government agency that will manage the logging operation.

One source described a map of the area that had been drawn and redrawn in search of a compromise between felling trees and maintaining enough forest to allow the koalas to survive.

The NSW Greens and south coast environment groups are campaigning for a moratorium on logging in the koala habitat.

"The koala population on the NSW south-east coast is at a critical level,'' the Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said.

"Yet the NSW Government is prioritising the interests of the logging industry over the ongoing survival of this much-loved native animal.''

The logging operation, due to begin in early March, would involve taking some high-quality timber and some timber for woodchips.

Most of the timber from felled trees in the region goes to a mill in Eden, which exports woodchips to Japan.

As well as the remaining koala population, which has been identified by sightings, droppings and scratch marks on trees, the forest is known to provide a home for endangered long-nosed potoroos.

The Environment Department is ''committed to the protection of koalas and their habitat'', a spokesman said.

The department had engaged in ''what is arguably the most extensive koala survey of its type ever undertaken in Australia, in parts of the Mumbulla and Murrah state forests which are believed to contain koala habitat''.

''The survey results will be used in current negotiations with Forests NSW to ensure the longer-term protection of critical koala habitat identified in the survey,'' he said.

The marsupials are listed as a vulnerable species in NSW, but there is controversy over how many are still alive in the wild.

The Australian Koala Foundation has said its research shows there were only 43,000 to 80,000 left on the Australian mainland, based on data from more than 1000 forests surveys.

The group is heading a new push to get the species listed as ''endangered'' via the threatened species committee.

But many other researchers think the foundation's koala population figure is a serious underestimate, and say that in some areas koala populations are not in decline.

At the time we noted here on SAM that a former SMH environment reporter James Woodford who now doubles as a "real dirt ....environmental news" blogger on the NSW south coast  ("the real dirt, the whole dirt, nothing but the dirt"), author and opinion writer on SMH still, was seemingly ignorant of the koala furore in his tree change domestic bliss. We hope it was ignorance but we believe otherwise. We detect a history of airbrushing NSW Govt "dirt" being the source of many if not all of his stories as a journalist on the drip.

Since then the green movement on the NSW south coast has been in uproar for a solid 6 weeks over this vandalism of icon species habitat, as per media releases and articles below. Indeed what would the United States side of the Premier Keneally family think of such wanton killing of koalas creating a regional extinction in a section of NSW?

We have now received this notice of a public meeting featuring Deborah Tabbart, a high profile koala campaigner from the Australian Koala Foundation:

Public meeting:

Logging threats to the South Coast at Murrah, Mumbulla and Tanja

Guest speaker: Deborah Tabbart, Australian Koala Foundation

7pm Tathra Town Hall

Monday 8th March 2010

Related community and/big media follow, all apparently invisible to dirty blogger James Woodford even when it's his own backyard (but not here 6 hours drive away!): 

Additional public meeting here nearby forest at Western Yurammie


[The Canberra Times]

26 Jan, 2010 01:00 AM
A colony of koalas in state forest near Tathra on the NSW South Coast could be wiped out by woodchip logging scheduled to begin within weeks, the ACT Conservation Council says.

Executive director John Hibberd has written to Federal environment minister Peter Garrett and NSW Premier Kristina Keneally urging them to intervene to save the Mumbulla State Forest koalas.

''This is the only known koala colony on the far South Coast, and represents the last remnant of the once extensive koala populations in the Bega Valley,'' Mr Hibberd said.

''Shooting, clearing, feral animals and fire have all decimated the koalas of the region. We cannot afford to risk these koalas now.''

The NSW Government launched a comprehensive survey of the area three years ago after local Aboriginal land council staff unexpectedly discovered two koalas in the Mumbulla forest.

The first stage of the survey, the largest of its kind undertaken in NSW, assessed 400 sites and more than 12000 trees.

Early results showed evidence of koalas at about 50 sites in forest between Gulaga and the Mumbulla mountains.

Based on these findings, the NSW Environment Department issued a statement which described Mumbulla as ''a stronghold of the species'' on the far South Coast.

The Government has not released the final results of the two-year survey, but the early findings were posted online as evidence of the survey's success.

The logging operations, due to begin in March, will harvest high quality timber as well as woodchips for export to Japan. Forests NSW is required under state conservation laws to leave a percentage of koala habitat trees in the area being logged.

Artist and former fashion designer Prue Acton said the threat to the South Coast koalas highlighted the need to stop a national decline in koala numbers by listing them as a nationally threatened species.

'' While the Commonwealth has not yet listed this animal as a threatened species, there is enough evidence around now about its decline that we simply cannot afford to take any further risks with its future,'' she said.

Mr Hibberd said the koalas needed sufficient space for their young to move into new territories, and any post-logging fires ''will spell the end for them''.


NSW Government must release all koala data: Constance

17 Feb, 2010 10:22 AM
LIBERAL MP Andrew Constance has called for the release of all NSW Labor Government information pertaining to koalas on the state's Far South Coast.
"It is in everybody interests that all data is publicly available so that the wider community and the timber industry can see how the Department of Environment and Climate Change and Forests NSW are addressing any concerns relating to koalas," Mr Constance said.
"The advice I have is that there are a number of well established koala colonies in the region and it is in everybody's interests that the community and the industry have confidence in what the State Government is doing to protect koalas and honour the regional forest agreement.
"The government has to be open, accountable and transparent so that any debate undertaken in the community is done with all information available.
"Whilst claims that there is only one colony left, the government must outline what colonies exist in both the National Parks system and State Forests on the Far South Coast and what measures are being undertaken to protect such colonies from being decimated by wildfire.
Bob Brown in the 1990s claimed the national park in the Tantawanglo as the most important koala habitat in south east NSW with an estimated 40-45 adult koala population.
"If there is an issue with any koala colony on the Far South Coast then an explanation needs to be given by the Minister Steve Whan, who has had nothing to say thus far on this issue, on how any concerns will be addressed.”

Join the cause on Facebook 

Save the Mumbulla and Five Forests Koalas from logging

[19 Feb 2010, full copy PDF link on image]





Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 9:57 PM
Subject: [chipstop] koala report

 Koala surveys in the coastal forests of the Bermagui–Mumbulla area: 2007–09 – interim report

"Figure 1 indicates that there have been few reports of koalas in other coastal and foothill forests of the Eden Region since 1996. This reduction in reporting rate suggests an overall decline in the regional population. "






[South East Forest Rescue]





Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 10:27 AM
Subject: another letter on koalas

Hi All,

 Sorry to keep sending these emails, but we are trying to get the attention of the state government on this urgent koala issue. A preliminary DECCW report released yesterday confirmed that there is a small healthy recovering population of about 50 koalas on the NSW south coast. ForestsNSW intends to log these forests irrespective of the findings, possibly as early as Monday. This will almost certainly spell the end for these koalas, which are nearly extinct on the south coast.  It’s been shown that letters and phone calls, especially to your local members, are one of the most effective ways of getting politicians to respond – better than emails. On the other hand, since time is very short, a letter, email or phone call to one of the pollies below might be the best strategy.   It would be great if you could adapt this letter in any way you want and send it.  Many thanks, and no obligation,PS You might like to watch this fantastic Youtube video produced for Japanese viewers by Japanese-Australian campaigner, Anja Light.



The Hon Ian Macdonald, MLC,Minister for Mineral and Forest ResourcesGovernor Macquarie Tower
Level 36, 1 Farrer Place, 
Premier Kristina KeneallyMember for Heffron,Shop 117, 747  Botany Road, ROSEBERY NSW 2018   
Dear          ,  
Your urgent action is needed to save the koalas of the far south coast.  The preliminary DECCW report, released yesterday, confirmed a small healthy recovering population of about 50 koalas on the NSW south coast, in the Mumbulla forest.
ForestsNSW intends to log this forest very soon, irrespective of the findings of this report, of any debate on the findings, or of the public release of the full report, including the koala habitat mapping.  In addition, the compartments will be burnt after logging, which will further decimate the remaining koalas.
 Logging and burning could result in the extinction of south coast koalas, by destroying habitat and expansionary corridors, and by directly killing koalas in both surveyed and unsurveyed areas. Compartments in other as yet unsurveyed forests are also due to be logged and burnt in the near future, and these may also contain small populations of recovering koalas that have not yet been identified.  
Australia’s top koala experts recognise the far south coast as a region where our national icon is in serious trouble. Koalas have a range up to 50km, so leaving small ‘cells’ for koala habitats is not effective to safeguard populations. These koalas need space if their population is going to grow to a viable size, capable of withstanding disease, drought and fire. Koalas must find trees with nutrient rich leaves for their highly specialised diet, and males need to find new territory.  The requirements of koalas are poorly understood, so it is impossible to ascertain what trees they will need, and in which direction they will need to move. These forests are also home to other endangered species, such as Long-Nosed Potoroos, Sooty Owls and Eastern Grey Headed Flying Foxes, as well as being critical habitat for the endangered Swift Parrot.

The NSW government appears to be placing very short sighted interests over the survival of this courageous animal, over our natural heritage and over the expansion of industries such as tourism on the south coast. The koala, one of our iconic native animals, could face destruction in these forests, for the sake of a very short term supply of woodchips and sawlogs, when there are now enough plantation resources on-line in Australia to ensure that no native forest needs to be logged.  
The NSW Labor government has a wonderful opportunity here to demonstrate its environmental credentials in the lead up to the next election. We don’t believe that this Labor government will want to leave the demise of the koala on the south coast as part of its legacy. You can save these animals and we are asking you to act now by putting an immediate halt to logging in the south east forests. 

Yours sincerely,


[ABC SE NSW radio] 

 Claim: Koala survey a "hurdle"

Posted Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:39am AEDT

Forests New South Wales has labelled an interim report into the state's South East koala colonies as "another hurdle" to its logging plans.

After two years of fieldwork the report was released this week, identifying a healthy koala population in areas including the Mumbulla State Forest, near Bermagui.

The department says it must begin logging in parts of the forest, because it is tied to a supply agreement with the timber industry.

Regional Manager Ian Barnes says there are many years left in the agreement.

"The government, in good faith, in exchange for the loss of resources by creating new national parks, gave an assurance to the industry that supply would be continued for 20 years," he said.

"So we've got at least 10 years to run on that agreement."

Mr Barnes says the report reveals more koala activity than expected in parts of the forest, which complicates arrangements under the Regional Forest Agreement signed in 1999.


[ABC radio SE NSW]

Community battles to save koala colony

Posted February 27, 2010 08:47:00

Conservationists say they will confront loggers head-on in an effort to save the habitat of a small colony of koalas on the far south coast of New South Wales.

Surveys by the Environment Department have found evidence of a recovering population of around 50 koalas in the Mumbulla state forest, south of Bermagui.

The New South Wales Government is due to start logging parts of the forest next month.

Most of the timber is to be sent to a mill in Eden, which exports some of it as woodchips to Japan.

John Hibberd from the ACT Conservation Council says if NSW Environment Minister Frank Sartor lets the logging go ahead, the koala population will be wiped out.

"I think it's absolutely staggering that we're still having this debate," he said.

"The south coast is marked by fantastic beaches, beautiful forests and yet we're prepared to log the forests and destroy an iconic species like koalas for the sake of supporting a foreign-owned industry that's heavily subsidised by the NSW taxpayer."

Mr Hibberd will meet with Mr Sartor in Sydney today together with other conservation groups.

A meeting between environmentalists and Mr Sartor yesterday failed to reach any agreement to protect the koalas.

Noel Plumb from conservation group Chip Busters says it is almost inevitable there will be direct conflict in the forests.

"The community is not going to allow this koala population to become extinct because you've got an arrogant state forest agency that won't listen to anybody," he said.

Meanwhile, deputy director-general of the Environment Department, Joe Woodward, says State Forests has agreed to hold off on some of its logging plans in the area.

"Importantly, [State] Forests have stated that they won't be going in and initially logging in those areas where the koalas have been identified," he said.

"Then we'll be having further discussions with State Forests to work out what can be done to protect the koalas."


SERCA South East Regional Conservation Alliance


Conservation Council ACT Region

MEDIA RELEASE - 27 February 2010

Koala Crisis Deepens in South East Forests

The crisis surrounding the possible extinction of koalas in the South East Forests deepened yesterday, as conservation groups met with the NSW Environment Minister, Frank Sartor.

“The Minister is deeply concerned at the situation but seems embattled on many fronts with forest issues,” said spokespersons for the South East Regional Conservation Alliance (SERCA).

“State Forests will not rule out the start of logging in the key koala areas as early as next Monday but are also effectively blocking negotiations (to protect the koalas) with the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).”

“It was apparent to us in the discussions with the Minister and his senior officers yesterday that State Forests has refused to supply the critical, specific timber-supply figures that would enable Minister Sartor to negotiate for alternative supply arrangements with the Minister for Forests.”

“The Minister repeatedly expressed his concern that alternative supply arrangements had to be put in place because of contractual commitments to the logging industry".

Concerned environment groups say "Such figures are, according to their  own logic, critical if the koalas are really to be protected from the intensive logging and wood-chipping operations now proposed by State Forests in the koala area.”

“State Forests has also broken its public commitment, made at a community meeting in Bermagui in 2007* that there would be genuine community consultation about the future of these forests once the NPWS koala survey was released by DECC.”

The completed Report was finally released by DECCW only on 23 February 2010 but without the maps critical for clear community information. The survey covers approximately 10,000 hectares of the Mumbullah and Murrah State Forests which lie between Bermagui and Bega.

“This survey does however confirm south coast conservationists and community groups statements of the past 10 years, that there is a small but potentially viable population of koalas barely hanging on in the south east forests.”

Noel Plumb, John Hibberd and Prue Acton "expressed the deep concern of their respective organisations to the Minister that, given State Forests' present attitude, there would inevitably be direct conflict in the these forests if State Forests attempted to start logging operations. Members of  the south coast communities are sick to death of 40 years of woodchipping and associated environmental destruction, we are determined to save the  Far South Coast koalas.”

For further comment;

John Hibberd,  Conservation Council ACT Region, Mobile 0407292657;

Prue Acton O.B.E. SERCA Merimbula
ph. 0264945144, m. 0419393203.


MEDIA RELEASE 28 February 2010

Koalas Doomed in South East Forests

Sell Out In the Wind

Conservation groups today claimed that the NSW Department of Environment (DoE) was dooming the last remaining koala colony in the South East Forests by caving into the NSW logging agency, State Forests. 

“DoE has effectively sold out on the survival of the last koalas in the South East Forests as it tries to negotiate with State Forests on a grossly unequal basis”, said spokespersons for the groups.

“We insist that conservation representatives be included in the negotiations to ensure the koalas get a fair go at survival.”

“DoE has failed to insist on the critical information on timber supply from State Forests so that it can actually negotiate on the basis of alternative supply sources. This information is vital to get around the claimed short term supply problem for a local timber mill.”

“ We know that the reality is that most of the timber, up to 90%, felled in this region goes straight to the Eden chipmill. State Forests has been caught time after time trying to claim a supply crisis for saw mills when none exists, or should exist if State Forests was competent.”

“DoE has tried to hide its desperate situation with the misleading statement that State Forests won’t be “initially logging in those areas where the koalas have been identified” but all this means is that State Forests intends to woodchip the forests all around the actual koala sightings.” **

“The end result will be the same – extinction of the last koala colony in the South East Forests from lack of sufficient forest habitat to feed and shelter them.”

For further comment, images;

Prue Acton SERCA 6494 5144 (Merimbula).



Posted by editor at 12:05 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 4 March 2010 1:52 PM EADT

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