Posts Tagged ‘South East Region Conservation Alliance’

Forests NSW decimating old growth forests

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
by Editor 2010330.
The New South Wales government logging agency, euphemistically named ‘Forests NSW’, has ongoing plans to log old growth native forests through the South East Corner bioregion of NSW.   These forests provide rare and important habitat for Australian fauna, some of which in this region are now critically threatened with extinction due to the logging, burning and deforesting activities of Forests NSW, the National Parks Service under its parent which changes its name every frew years, and the NSW Rural Fire Service.
Australia’s SE Corner (SEC) Bioregion encompasses the shires of Eurobodalla, Bega Valley, Bombala and parts of Cooma-Monaro and Snowy River. The South East Corner forests include the Tilba, Bermagui, Murrah, Mumbulla, Tanja and Wapengo State Forests .   It also includes a number of national parks including the Biamanga National Park.
Not surprisingly, many Australians, and particularly locals in this bioregion, value these forests being protected and are opposed to the habitat destruction being wrought to the old growth forests.   Key active environmental organisations seeking to protect these forests include the Friends for Five Forests and the South East Region Conservation Alliance Inc. (SERCA).  SERCA is an umbrella organisation for conservation, environment and for citizens’ groups who want to conserve and protect the natural environment of South East NSW, Australia.   SERCA’s member organisations include Bega Environment Network | Chipstop | The Coastwatchers Association Inc | Colong Foundation for Wilderness | Friends of Durras | National Parks Association – Far South Coast | Natural Native Forests | SE Forest Rescue | Yurangalo Inc.
SERCA formed in September 2005 to ’maximise efforts and resources’ of these organisations to combat the continued NSW Government-sanctioned woodchipping of native forests, to participate in formal environmental planning by the NSW Government in the regionprocesses and importantly to protect these forest habitats from damaging development and land and forest management practices.
Below is a series of reports on the events affecting these forests from these various organisations and from media reports up until March 2010.



Forests NSW have moved into log the Mumbulla State Forest

SOURCE:  Friends for Five Forests, 20100329,

29 March 2010:

‘Forests NSW have moved into Compartments 2133 and 2135 in Mumbulla State Forest.

‘After a local resident photographed koala prints on Lizard road, near Cpt 2163 next on the logging list, the DECCW have apparently decided to undertake surveys before their burning operation on the other side of the road.

‘Much of the forest in Mumbulla creek catchment of Biamanga NP is growing on the Murrah soil landscape – still the only place koalas have been located. On this basis and in combination with the State Government’s management, the species remains endangered and likely to become extinct.’

Tanja State Forest – local residents meeting with State Forest reps.

Richard Blakers, 20100322
22 March 2010:
‘Residents shocked by scale of proposed logging in Tanja State Forest Local residents met with State Forest representatives last week to discuss proposed logging operations in Tanja State Forests.’
‘The residents thanked the State Forests representatives for meeting with them and listened carefully to the information they provided.  However, residents are very unhappy with the outcome of the meeting.  They were shocked to discover the scale and intensity of the proposed logging and are not satisfied with State Forest responses to any of the concerns raised.’
‘The areas to be logged lie between Bega and Tathra along the north side of the Bega River. Near Mogareeka, the logging comes to within 50 metres of the river. It is also along the eastern side of ReedySwamp Road and extending along all the ridges and down to within 15 -20 metres of the drainage lines and creeks draining into the Bega River.’
‘The State Forests representatives explained steps taken to protect water quality, wildlife and scenic values in the logging operations. However it was clear that the measures are the barest minimum and worked out to allow for maximum tree removal, not maximum protection of other forest values.’
‘State Forests representatives conceded that after the proposed logging operation all available larger trees will have been removed from the forest and it will be well over 100 years before similar trees will again be available for commercial logging.’
‘They also stated that the logging was being driven by their need to meet wood supply agreements, and that within 3-5 years this kind of logging would stop in the Southern Region Forests because the supply of older trees will be exhausted. Once this happened, the industry would restructure to be able to use smaller trees.’
‘State Forests acknowledged that this logging will have significant short and long term impacts on local residents, and suggested the solution might be for residents to question their decision to buy property adjoining state forest.’
‘Residents think this is not a helpful attitude that does not address any of their issues.’
‘The residents have legitimate concerns about what happening to the public forests around our towns and homes. State Forests representatives do not seem to be in any position to cater to the residents needs because they are under pressure to meet wood supply agreements.’
‘Residents are therefore demanding that the State Government bring forward plans to restructure the timber industry and place a moratorium on logging in these coastal forests. It is not reasonable that these areas of older forest that have significant values other than just timber production should be sacrificed in order to meet such short term

Koala colony under threat

Source: ABC 7pm TV News NSW, 18 March 2010

‘Environmental groups say State Government plans to commence logging in the Bega Valley, on the NSW far south coast, will decimate the local koala population.The last known population of koalas on NSW’s far south coast could be under threat by State Government plans to log their habitat.’

Forests NSW & RFS burn 700 ha of Biamanga NP

SOURCE:  Friends for Five Forests, 20100329,

Early March 2010:

‘Working collaboratively the NPWS, Forests NSW and the Rural Fire Service [RFS] have decided to burn close to seven hundred hectares of Biamanga National Park.

‘It appears the timing of this operation is consistent with plans to begin unsustainable logging on Monday 29 March. Consequently the NPWS is proposing to close the Lizard road to reduce access to the logging area from the east.’

NSW Government report on koalas in Mumbulla State Forest is flawed

SOURCE:  Friends for Five Forests, 201002,

February 2010:

‘The month ends with NSW government releasing a belated ‘interim’ report on the highly inefficient and non-adaptive/heuristic koala surveys. Amongst other disturbing elements the survey took 5 times as long to complete as the pilot survey. The cost to date, leaving aside the eight arrests and other time runs at over $1million, being twice the estimated value of all the sawlogs remaining in Mumbulla State Forest.’

‘The survey outcome, based on employing a 2% (?!) activity contour, is that less than 5% (1089 ha) of the area surveyed (22,000 ha) is said to be occupied by koalas. Regrettably there is some uncertainty about how this area has been derived as the RGB-SAT methodology measure for a single tree in a plot is 3.3%. There are no details as to how the 2% contour has been calculated although theoretically it should encompass a greater area than a 3.3% contour but this is apparently not the case.’

‘Seems to be another example of how the NSW and other governments put unsustainable logging above all else. On a positive note the genetic analysis demonstrates the NSW Scientific Committee was quite wrong.’


Loggers are set to destroy one of Australia’s last remaining koala habitats.

Source: John Hibberd, SERCA:

February 2010:

‘The NSW Government has started sending contractors into the forests in South Eastern NSW.  Negotiations between the NSW Department of Environment and the state government agency responsible for logging, Forests NSW, appear to have failed to reach a compromise.
‘The irony is that the NSW Government last year ordered a survey to try and find koalas in the coastal forests that are now about to be logged. The survey, which was conducted across all land tenures, found a small, active population of about 30 koalas and is continuing.
‘It seems the NSW Government has now decided its contractual obligations to supply saw logs locally and woodchips to Asia are more important then protecting this much loved native animal, which is immortalized in Australian culture.
‘The disease, Chlamydia, plus loss of habitat have contributed to a dramatic decline in koala numbers over recent decades, with the species now close to being declared endangered.
“Soon it will be too late to save the species.” Says Debora Numbers of koalas in Australia may be as low as 45,000 recent surveys by the Australian Koala Foundation show.
‘The koala population in South Eastern NSW was once healthy but in the last 100 years has been decimated by hunters interested in koala pelts and by logging.
‘Forests NSW have not publically given a date for the start of logging in the Mumbulla State Forest, no doubt expecting direct action from conservationists who forced loggers out of an area close by three years ago.
‘The issue will put heat on the new premier of the state of NSW, American-born Kristina Keneally, who was installed by the right-wing faction of the party recently.
‘And Commonwealth Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett – a former rock star with internationally successful band Midnight Oil and environmentalist – has been asked to intervene.
‘Steve Phillips – arguably NSW most experienced and expert Koala scientist, said on ABC radio recently,” We have got the management prescriptions (for koalas) wrong, especially in the SE …. The small area of koala habitat remaining is such a precious resource …. They have just got to be protected so they can continue to expand ….. there is no longer any argument about what is important habitat”.
‘NSW Minister for forestry Ian MacDonald stated in Parliament in 2008 that despite recurrent financial losses, logging in native forests will continue, in order to support jobs.
‘Yet billions of dollars of taxpayer funds have been pumped into plantations as replacement timber and fiber for industry and export. NSW Forests rely heavily on the outdated Regional Forest Agreements that were signed off in the late 90s giving new areas in National Parks to the state but retaining forests for logging. Conservationists say the industry is outdated and only propped up by political will and union backing.
‘These agreements are excluded from the Environment Protection Act (EPBC) as well as climate change and water supplies.
‘Will zoos soon be the only places to see koala? Will NSW Premier Kristine Keneally do her part and stop logging these coastal forests of Mumbulla, sealing the fate of these last few koala?’
‘It seems not despite 2010 being The Year of Biodiversity.’

Logging Plan Poses Threat to Precious Koala Colony

SOURCE:  Friends for Five Forests, 20100124, from Sydney Morning Herald.

January 2010:

‘The year begins with the NSW government deciding to support the (Japanese) native forest logging industry and their proposals to eliminate the last koalas. According to the Sydney Morning Herald: Forests NSW and the Department of Environment and Climate Change are “ . . . in search of a compromise between felling trees and maintaining enough forest to allow the koalas to survive.” (

‘Referring to the Regional Forest Agreements the recently released independent review of the EPBC Act states “ . . . if the terms of the approval are not complied with, or if there is insufficient reporting information to verify that compliance, Dr Hawke recommends that the approval should be terminated.” And “ . . . the full protections of the Act should apply to forest activities.” In his press release Environment Minister Peter Garret stated:

. . . the Government notes the concerns raised by Dr Hawke in recommendation 38 in the review regarding the current mechanisms in the Act for forest management under Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs), and is committed to working with state governments to improve the review, audit and monitoring arrangements for RFAs, including their timely completion, clearer assessment of performance against environmental and sustainable forestry outcomes, and a greater focus on compliance of RFAs in the intervening years.

‘The Government intends to use upcoming RFA renewal processes to improve the achievement of these outcomes in future RFAs. In light of this, the Government rejects the mechanisms proposed in recommendation 38 and does not propose to review section 38 of the EPBC Act as it currently applies to RFAs.” [Source:]

The fact that the DECC are working with Forests NSW to ensure logging in the catchments suggests that they either remain unconvinced that logging spreads Bell-miners or they believe that koalas like sick trees. If the Commonwealth are committed to these ideas they should have no problems working with the state government.’


Forests NSW ignores koalas to permit logging of Mumbulla State Forest

SOURCE:  Friends for Five Forests, 20100329,

December 2009:

‘With no apparent reason, other than to progress koala extinction the NSW Government is reportedly planning business as usual when work resumes in the New Year. This work has begun and the Department of the Environment for Climate Change (DECC) has deleted from their website all information about the koala surveys over the past 2 years.’

‘The NPWS Regional manager Tim Shepard is reported as saying “. . . now we have a good idea of where Koalas live . .” We are using this information to help us plan our hazard reduction programs”(Coastal Custodians, Nov/Dec 2009). Also, a rumour has spread from the Wapengo Watershed Association claiming Forests NSW will begin the year logging koala habitat in Mumbulla State Forest. While the source of this proposal remains unconfirmed, it does confirm some suspicions. Notably that logging is to be suspended at Bermagui so the negative impacts of uncontrollable wildfire in logging slash adjacent to the town, can be reduced over summer. Killing koalas is, apparently, OK.’

Logging begins in Compartment 2001 in Bermagui State Forest

SOURCE:  Friends for Five Forests, 20100329,

‘Forests NSW have approved logging in 89% of the compartment as opposed to the maximum of 60% allowed for in their legal approvals. Desperate to maintain timber supplies this logging confirms the statement from Forests NSW manager Mr Martin Linehan that “We can do what we want when we want“.

‘Fifteen months after the NSW Government released a map that is inconsistent with the outcomes of the pilot koala surveys. Koala expert Dr Steve Phillips has been interviewed ABC local radio about the uncertain fate for koalas at a national level and the last few Five Forests koalas.’

Forests NSW Illegally Logging in Bermagui

SOURCE:  Friends for Five Forests, 20100329,

September 2009:

‘Four arrests have been made as a result of Forests NSW claims, but examination of the operational map, the prohibited area notice and the logging plan(s) for Cpt 2002 demonstrate the logging is outside the IFOA. Critical koala habitat is being destroyed while the NSW police support Forests NSW illegal logging.’

‘Logging began in Compartment 2002 of Bermagui State Forest on Thursday September 10. The logging plans (download from resources page) for the compartment are not an accurate or honest representation of soil, flora, water or roads in the compartment. Details of concerns about the operations, also available on the resources page, have been passed onto the NSW police and NCS International.

‘Forests NSW can log this critical koala habitat on the only soil landscape known to have koalas because they have been able to abuse the process based on unproven claims about koalas in the south east.’

‘A community conducted review of the Eden Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) between the Commonwealth and NSW State Governments has found that forests in the southeast are being exploited at rate that far exceeds the limits of ecological sustainability and those of the relevant legislation.’

‘Community representative on the Forest Resources and Management Systems Committee for the Eden assessment process and review author Mr Robert Bertram believes that the RFA has failed to achieve the legislated ecological milestones and this failure has negative implications at local, regional and global levels.’

“ The review analyses Annual reports from the NSW Forestry Commission that indicate dramatically reduced timber yields of 60% for sawlogs and 40% for pulp logs and a massive escalation in areas being logged, such that over the past five years nearly 50% of all State forests in the Eden region have been scheduled for logging.’

“These outcomes confirm that extensive canopy dieback and the associated death of millions of trees in the southeast is having a significant impact on the native forest logging industry. It is apparent that some 50,000 hectares of additional forests have been covertly handed over to ensure wood supplies.’

“These additional forests include areas that the Forestry Commission failed to declare during the Eden assessment and vast tracts of forests on the tablelands, that have similarly not been assessed. It is apparent that these Crown forests are being logged with the assistance of significant public subsidies and at a rate that greatly exceeds the requirements of the RFA.

However, of greatest concern is that the RFAs are designed to ignore the science that explains the decline of eucalyptus forests and it’s relationship to timber supplies, species extinction, catchment degradation and climate change. It seems that Government departments and other publicly funded organizations are either threatened or ‘paid off’ to ignore or suppress relevant information. The success of the RFA has been to demonstrate that ignorance and greed has overcome credible science, accountability and intergenerational equity.”

‘The review entitled: ‘The effects of deforestation on timber volumes, areas logged and associated climate change issues: A community review of the EdenRegionalForest Agreement” can be downloaded at the Friends of the Five Forests website:

Forests NSW has compartment 2002 in the Bermagui State Forest on its worklist

SOURCE:  Friends for Five Forests, 2005,

‘Friends of Five Forests and their supporters will have to mount yet another campaign to have the logging stopped if Black Lagoon and Meads Bay are to be protected in accordance with the sanctuary zone classification they have been given as part of the Batemans Marine Park, and if the very few remaining koalas are to have any chance of survival. This large compartment of predominantly spotted gums is a significant part of  the catchment for Narira Creek and Black Lagoon, which link into Meads Bay.’

‘The Batemans Marine Park provides for the highest level of protection of Black Lagoon and Meads Bay as sanctuary Zones.  Logging can be expected to lead to further serious siltation of the Creek, and to damage plant and fish life in both the Lagoon and Meads Bay.   The Park Zone Plan does not come into operation until June 2007.’

‘Pre-emptive action by Forests NSW to log compartment 2002 in the interim would make a mockery of the Marine Park zoning.’

‘The compartment contains areas of significant koala habitat. It is also next to part of the Kooraban National Park that contains the only koalas in this immediate region.  Both this area and compartment 2002 are occupied by the Five Forests koala population, which was nominated as endangered some years ago.’

‘NSW Government release of a report by consultants on a Koala Management Plan for the region is now well overdue.’

‘Friends of Five Forests and their supporters will have to mount yet another campaign to have the logging stopped if Black Lagoon and Meads Bay are to be protected in accordance with the sanctuary zone classification they have been given as part of the Batemans Marine Park, and if the very few remaining koalas are to have any chance of survival.’

150 residents call for immediate halt to all logging operations in the Five Forests

SOURCE:  Friends for Five Forests, 20050320,

20 March 2005:

‘More than 150 people from many areas of the Bega Valley Shire and beyond attended a meeting at the Murrah Hall to hear about logging operations being implemented by non-adaptive land managers in the coastal forests around Bermagui.’

‘The meeting was unanimous in calling for an immediate halt to all logging operations in the Five Forests.’

‘In late May 2005 the NSW Forestry Commission breached the conditions of the Regional Forest Agreements and their Threatened Species licence when they started to log critical Koala habitat in Cuttagee catchment part of Murrah State Forest.

‘As a result of community actions the logging crew pulled the operation four days after it started and after FNSW arrested two people.’

‘Several actions are being planned and implemented that are aimed at stopping the further destruction of our flora, fauna and degradation coastal catchments and implementing sustainable forest management.’

The second stage has been the production of management and research proposals that take a holistic approach to natural resource management. The management and research proposals blend appropriate restoration forestry with world’s best practise and public accountability.’

As a result of the communities efforts and after failing to find anyone in DEC prepared to accept the mission, the NSW State Government has recently employed consultants to gather community opinions for possible input into a Koala Management Framework.’




[Background Ecology]     ‘Koalas in the Bega Valley’

SOURCE:  John Hiberd, SERCA, 201002,
‘There were once, 100 years ago, hundreds of thousands of koalas in the Bega Valley. They were so numerous that you could even see them in the trees along Bega’s main street! Hunting for the fur trade, habitat loss through extensive clearing, and fire have all decimated that once vast population.
Now all we know for sure is that a tiny remnant clings on in Mumbulla State Forest, with a few scattered individuals possibly elsewhere. And this is what they
are going to log and burn. Recent DECCW surveys have shown that this population is slowly recovering, and may now number up to 50 individuals. Studies of tree species preferred by Mumbulla koalas have shown that species diversity appears to be important for them.’
‘Surprisingly, given this population’s small size, DNA analysis by Sydney University has shown that Mumbulla koalas are genetically strong, and thus potentially able to increase their numbers without some of the inbreeding problems that have affected other disjunct koala populations.
Koalas need space. They need space to find the most nutrient rich leaves for their highly specialised diet; they need space so that young males, forced from their homes, can find new territories; they need space to handle our changing climate with more frequent and longer droughts; and they need space if their population is going to grow to a more viable size, capable of withstanding major events such as fire or disease.’
‘It is this space that they are being denied. And for what? For the sake of a few months supply of sawlogs and woodchips. Once they have logged and burnt, we may have prolonged the inevitable decline of the local sawlog industry, but we will have lost our koalas for ever!’
‘It is also no good just thinking that we can log carefully. The requirements of koalas are so poorly understood as to make it impossible to be certain which trees they are going to need, or in which direction they are going to need to move. Perhaps forestry believe that they can get away with just “not logging the trees with koalas in them”! And once the forest has been logged it will be burnt, which will nicely finish off any remaining koalas!’
‘The koalas of the Far South Coast are an integral component of our natural heritage – a natural heritage which has endured for millenia – respected by the traditional Aboriginal custodians of the land – a heritage which has led to the designation of this area as Australia’s Coastal Wilderness, with a campaign aimed at increasing tourism in the area and thus improving the local economy. Yet again we face the dilemma of short-term economic gain versus long-term
environmental degradation and the loss of opportunity to establish a truly sustainable local economy.’
‘A Koala recovery programme in these coastal forests has the potential to become an internationally recognised species recovery project, since:
  • They are an iconic species facing regional extinction, but for which there appears to be a reasonable chance of recovery with appropriate management actions;
  • There is a significant role for indigenous people, both because they are custodians of the area (especially the adjacent Biamanga National Park), and because of potential training and employment opportunities that could arise through the recovery program;
  • We now have a sound scientifically-based foundation giving us the capacity to monitor the conservation status of the population;
  • There are a range of educational and research outreach opportunities involving tertiary institutions, schools and field studies centres;
  • We can build a significant role for the local community; and,
  • We can develop substantial opportunities for research-based tourism and thus grow the local economy in a sustainable manner.

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