Inga Williams

Koala mapping under review to ensure better protection

PROCESSES for mapping koala habitats by the Environmental Protection Agency are now under review.

The EPA last week met with representatives from the Nature Conservation Council and affiliated conservation groups to discuss technical aspects of mapping currently being undertaken by the EPA.

Under current laws, documents called Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs) govern logging practices to minimise environmental impacts. The North Coast IFOA is currently under review.

An EPA spokeswoman says a re-made IFOA will include short and long term approaches to ensure koalas are identified, managed and protected, with various considerations now under way by the NSW Government.

"The EPA is spending $373,000 over three years to pilot and develop approaches to mapping koalas and their habitats," the spokeswoman said.

"We're trialling a number of different methods of koala habitat mapping at scales appropriate for different land tenures."

North Coast Environment Council vice-president Susie Russell said the meeting included "a robust discussion" but failed address the immediacy of the issue

"The EPA are looking at a number ways to improve mapping… but our concern is that by the time we have mapped areas of state forest and private land, a large amount of it will have been lost to logging," Ms Russell said.

She added that an immediate moratorium on logging of potential koala habitat should be imposed until a rehabilitation strategy was implemented.

These concerns were echoed by NSW National Parks' Ashley Love on the need for independent input on mapping regulations.

"It is critical for independent experts and the community to review the methodology before mapping starts," Mr Love said.

The EPA released the first stage of koala mapping in February.

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