Concerns over logging in koala areas

A LETTER outlining North Coast Environment Council concerns about logging in core koala habitat in the Coffs Harbour area was handed to the director general of the Department of Environment Climate Change and Water, Lisa Corbyn, last week.

According to the director of landscapes and ecosystem conservation, Tom Grosskopf, the department was now investigating the issues and a reply would be forthcoming sometime in January.

“Under the Coffs Harbour City Council’s koala plan of management, 19,000 hectares have been marked as koala habitat,” Mr Grosskopf said.

“As a result some may be included in Private Native Forestry Property Vegetation Plans (PNFPVP).”

He said the way the system worked was when a PVP was issued owners were then obliged to undertake logging operations in accordance with the code of practice.

“Owners have to make a detailed operations plan and if any core koala habitat is identified, as per SEPP 44, then logging is not permitted.”

He said one of the problems was the Coffs Harbour Plan of Management did not fall under the NSW environmental planning policy but rather the council had its own detailed plan and had written themselves out of the state plan.

The only solution would be for either DECCW to change their code of practice or the council to change their Local Environment Plan.

Discussions had so far not led to any changes.

Mr Grosskopf said regardless of the plans, if koalas were found to be present during logging operations then there was a code of modified action that had to be followed, such as retaining koala trees and feed trees.

“We recognise people have the right to use the resources on their land but they also have the responsibility not to put any important cultural environmental assets, such as koalas, at risk.”

He said the department carried out random audits of all logging operations, in particular those in highly sensitive areas.

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