Forestry Corp counters claim of habitat destruction
FORESTRY Corporation has rubbished claims of koala habitat destruction after protesters shut down logging in a state forest yesterday.
Members of the Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group temporarily halted logging operations in the Bagawa State Forest after a protester suspended themselves in a tree while tied to machinery.
The action took place at a site about 30km north west of Coffs Harbour, in a forest which had been affected by the Liberation Trail Fire last December, prompting calls for a suspension of logging in the area.
The Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group is a historic alliance between Gumbaynggirr Custodians, local community and environmental groups that have come together over a shared concern about native forest logging across local State Forests.
"The recent NSW State Parliamentary investigation concluded that the biggest threat to Koala survival is extensive habitat loss - yet logging and clearing has continued across NSW State Forests," a GCG spokesperson said.
"They say (it's) critical for timber supply, we say critical for threatened species habitat.
"Koalas, our national icon, are on the brink of extinction yet Forestry Corp are smashing their habitat to the ground. Extinction is forever - there's no going back."
However, Forestry Corporation responded by saying they had been working with the Environmental Protection Authority as they assessed the "appropriate means" to achieve environmental protection in the post-fire landscape.
The spokesperson added that there were additional site-specific conditions provided by the EPA to augment the "already strict" regulation for native forestry.
"There is no land clearing involved in our operations, in Bagawa State Forest we are conducting a sustainable, selective harvesting operation," the spokesperson said.
"Before any tree is harvested in this area, thorough ecological surveys are conducted and any old growth and rainforest is mapped and protected; threatened species habitat and threatened plant communities are mapped and protected.
"In terms of koalas, we are protecting koala habitat by retaining feed trees and vegetation clumps suitable for koala habitat."
It has been a challenging week for Forestry Corporation's North Coast activities after it was hit with a stop work order after investigations by the EPA found "serious" alleged breaches of conditions.
The investigations found two giant trees - protected under the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval - had been felled, prompting the first stop work order ever issued to the company under new laws introduced in 2018.