The North East Forest Alliance welcomes the Department of Planning Industry and Environment’s (DPIE) identification of 55,000 hectares of State Forests for addition to existing National Parks as the Great Koala National Park, as a step in the right direction.
“It is refreshing that expert advice and Koala records have been applied to identify priority areas for protection”, NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
“Last time in 2018 when the NSW Government proposed 24,000 hectares as Koala Reserves, as a pillar of its Koala Strategy, they allowed the Forestry Corporation to select areas with no timber value and no Koalas.
“While this time they have again attempted to limit timber impacts, they have at least applied the science and included 30% of the State Forests within these three populations identified as having high Koala values. There is still a long way to go, but it is a meaningful start.
“The real test is whether the Environment Minister Matt Kean can now deliver on DPIE’s advice and overcome the undoubted opposition of the timber industry to any protection of public forests. This is a litmus test for the Berejiklian Government.
“While there is no doubt that the Great Koala National Park encompasses the most significant Koala habitat in NSW, it is important to recognise that it only encompasses parts of 3 of the 29 Areas of Regional Koala Significance (ARKS) identified in north-east NSW. There is much more to be done.
“Next Minister Kean needs to direct DPIE to undertake an assessment of the Banyabba Koala ARKS before the Forestry Corporation trashes more burnt Koala habitat”, Mr. Pugh said.
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