It's hard to ignore a group of people dressed in mangy Koala suits outside NSW parliament house. It's more difficult to ignore the campaign for the protection of red gum forests, which is what the September 23 Wilderness Society protest drew attention to.
The protest demanded the conservation of red gum forests along the Murray River. The aim was to raise awareness of the 95% increase in red gum logging, for low-value products such as fence posts, railway sleepers and ... firewood?
Yep, that's right, firewood. As archaic as it sounds, red gums are being logged for people who prefer 18th century-style heating. This is despite the fact that red gums are renowned for their enormous carbon absorption capacity. The trees provide habitation for at least 46 threatened animal species and 23 threatened plant species.
With only 170,000 hectares of red gum state forests, the recent water stresses have had a major impact, with 75% of the trees either dead or dying, yet they are still being clear-felled.