Some Manning Community News readers have asked what is happening with the logging in Bulga Forest?  

The local community recently found evidence that at least two Koalas  had survived the bushfires which had burned all around them.

The good news is that they have been given a one year reprieve! After weeks of frantic letter-writing to all and sundry including Boral, the Forestry Corporation, the Forestry and Environment Ministers, the Premier and the Environment Protection Authority, something happened, and we were told the logging would be delayed until next spring. 

Of course this isn’t long enough for the forest or the depleted Koala populations to recover, but it is breathing space and who knows, maybe 2021 will bring a miracle or a people’s movement strong and determined enough to stop the logging.

We certainly aren’t expecting the Government to help. Despite claiming she wants to save the Koala, Premier Gladys and her government have hammered more nails into the Koala coffin over the last week or so, taking Koala protection back at least 25 years.

Their spat with the Nationals was a smokescreen. Almost every change the Nationals sought to the Koala State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) was made. It is now much harder for local councils to identify and protect  core Koala habitat.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the government has now brought to parliament new laws that mean that even if new core koala habitat is identified under the Koala SEPP, it won’t affect anyone who has a logging approval or wants to clear along their fencelines. The Local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill 2020, has passed the NSW Lower House and is scheduled to go to the Upper House at the time of writing.  

These laws stop the inclusion of core Koala habitat, identified by local Councils, in State Sensitive Regulated Land… meaning it basically won’t be regulated. If the landholder wants to log or clear land that has been identified as core Koala habitat, they can just go right ahead and do it! Logging approvals, which have until now been for 15 years will be extended to 30 years! If Codes of Practice are updated in the meantime to include new knowledge, bad luck, as it won’t affect the logging. 

Bulldozers have free rein

Instead of actively promoting Koala conservation on private land and providing incentives for Councils and landholders to protect those populations, to nurture them and to ensure the conditions exist for them to breed… instead bulldozers have been given free rein.

Councils will be hamstrung. They will have no power to prevent the logging or clearing from going ahead.

Nationals leader John Barilaro, was heard to describe Koalas as ‘tree rats’. There’s no doubt the Nat’s have no sympathy for Koalas or any wildlife it seems, except feral horses. The shock is that the Liberals in the Coalition have handed decision-making on the bush over to the Nationals and support the laws they propose, regardless of the implications for our most iconic animal. MP for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams who left the Nationals over their bullying on the Koala SEPP had no problems voting for the new laws described above.

Protests around the State as part of a Save Our Koalas campaign is only the beginning.

Susie Russell

North Coast Environment Council and the North East Forest Alliance

Elands  NSW

#SaveOurKoalas

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