Logging threatens koala population
A FEDERAL Senator has earmarked logging in Pine Creek Forest as an issue threatening the local population of koalas.
Senator Lee Rhiannon said the Federal Government must tighten koala protection laws to ensure koalas are not being placed at risk.
The concern for the koala population comes after a report from Community group Markets for Change tracking timber harvested by Forests NSW from Pine Creek Forest to a Boral sawmill in Kooklhan and ultimately to the timber used in Harvey Norman's 'Naturally Australian' flooring range.
"If Harvey Norman and Forestry NSW are not protecting our precious koala habitats, as the report indicates, then the federal government must step in to ensure that the recent threatened species listing for koalas is worth the paper it is written on", Sen Rhiannon said.
"It is a no-brainer that koalas are more important than floorboards. There is enough plantation timber to meet Australia's floorboard needs without threatening koala habitat."
The Bellingen Environment Centre has raised the concerns of residents who've reported koalas on the fringes of Bellingen as they are forced out of Pine Creek Forest.
The BEC said a recent inspection revealed 100 metre spaces between trees in the riparian zones preventing koalas from connecting with Bongil Bongil National Park next door to the Pine Creek Forest.
The Centre is one of the local environmental groups to criticise the proposal by Environment Minister Robyn Parker to endorse the removal of the Pine Creek Koala Management Plan covering Pine Creek State Forest and parts of Bongil Bongil National Park.
Sen Rhiannon pointed out that more information is required before going ahead with logging plans.
"At the very least, the NSW government should suspend Forests NSW's logging until there is a detailed population study and plan of management that protects koala habitat," she said.
The Senator also said that the legislation introduced this year to protect koalas needs to be beefed up.
"In April this year the federal government listed koalas in NSW, Queensland and ACT as vulnerable following a Greens-initiated Senate Inquiry," she said.
"But this federal listing has no teeth where logging operations are conducted under Regional Forest Agreements, such as the logging in Boambee Forest by Forests NSW."
Koalas in Pine Creek, Boambee and Bongil Bongil are set to be thrown a lifeline when a Koala Protection Bill is introduced by Greens Senator Larissa Waters.
This Bill would make an offence to destroy or harm koala habitat in areas where the koala has been listed as threatened by the Federal Environment Minster.