First fires, now koala habitat to be logged

Anti-logging protesters at the Myrtle State Forest. Photo: North East Forest Alliance

As New South Wales eases its coronavirus restrictions, 10 protesters from the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) protested in one state forest near Casino in northern NSW against logging, which is about to begin in koala habitat.

On March 3, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) gave approval to the NSW Forestry Corporation to log in burnt koala habitat in the Bungawalbin, Doubleduke and Myrtle State Forests on the Richmond River lowlands. 

“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,” NEFA spokesperson Ruth Rosenhek said.

There are estimates that 80-90% of koala populations have been lost from burnt forests and yet the Forestry Corporation wants to further decimate these forests and destroy the fragile ecosystems of koalas, squirrel gliders and phascogales, Rosenhek said.

The socially distanced protesters reported that while many trees were burnt out, they could still see koala scratches on a number of trees, “showing that at least some had survived the fires”.

Rosenhek said there needed to be “a full assessment of the damages of the fires” before “any further activities” are undertaken.

“Like an immune system that can handle no more, the lowland spotted gum forests need rest, rain and care. With most koalas killed, the remaining population needs time to recover and rebuild.”

The group held banners saying “Forests4Ever” and chanted “Enough is Enough!”

The NEFA is calling on the EPA to immediately withdraw its logging approval for koala habitat and undertake an assessment of the impact of the fires.

It is also calling for a moratorium on further logging to save populations of species significantly affected by the fires, until surveys to assess their vulnerability are undertaken.

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