Bruce Thomas

Koala habitat now under threat

LOGGING within Environmental Protection Zones is permissible under Coffs Harbour City Council’s Local Environment Plan, says the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.

DECCW is responding to criticism from Coffs Harbour City Council and the North Coast Environment Council for its ‘persistent granting of approvals to log koala habitat’ in the Coffs Harbour area.

The two councils say DECCW has approved about 1900 hectares of core koala habitat for logging since 2007.

Koalas are one of 97 animals listed as threatened species by DECCW within the Coffs Coast and escarpment Catchment Management Authority sub-region.

A spokeswoman for DECCW said under the LEP, any forestry activity required the consent of council and a Private Native Forestry Property Vegetation Plan under the Native Vegetation Act.

She said DECCW told landholders applying for PNF/PVPs they would need council consent before any forestry activity began if their land included environmental protection zones.

She said the PNF Code of Practice specifically protected threatened species including koalas and specific restrictions applied to sites with a known record or site evidence of koalas.

“We are not aware of any advice received from (Coffs Harbour City) Council re approvals being illegal,” she said

The spokeswoman said Coffs Harbour was not on the list of councils to which SEPP 44 (koala habitat protection) applied and the department was trying to determine the background of this.

On January 6 the council general manager wrote to DECCW asking what was their legal justification for causing the destruction of large tracts of koala habitat.

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