The National Parks Association (NPA) is calling on Agriculture Minister Tara Moriaty and Environment Minister Penny Sharpe to intervene to save critically important koala habitats from a cynical attempt by Forestry Corporation to derail the creation of the Great Koala National Park.
NPA President Dr Grahame Douglas states ‘Over the weekend Forestry Corporation added an additional 746 hectares of prime koala habitat in Pine Creek State Forest for clear felling’, this is on top of the 374 hectares already planned. They have also now given the green light to the immediate clear felling of compartment 14.
‘Forestry Corporation claims that these forests are plantations, which the NSW Government has stated are an important part of the transition to ecologically sustainable timber production1. The problem is that many of the areas targeted in Pine Creek State Forest are not genuine plantations, but instead native forest that is of vital importance as koala habitat’.
‘It’s time to stop Forestry Corporation’s cynical rebranding of native forests as plantations. NPA calls on the Ministers to urgently review the conservation status of these Pine Creek forests and to immediately suspend all forestry operations until the NSW Government has signed off on a final boundary for the Great Koala National Park’ continued Dr Douglas.
Dr Douglas suggested that the Minister for Environment Penny Sharpe must have been given misleading advice when she described Pine Creek State Forest as plantations in the NSW parliament1
‘NPA is delighted that the NSW Government supports the Great Koala National Park. Now’s the time to ensure that the national park becomes a reality, and these koala populations are protected in perpetuity. The rogue actions of the NSW Government’s Forestry Corporation risks destroying that future before the park can be created’.
‘We call on the Ministers to urgently meet with local community representatives and conservation groups at Pine Creek to see the reality of these forests, starting with compartments 14 to 18. In addition, areas such as Compartments 7, 8 and 9 are not plantations but native forests with core koala habitat that are now slated for logging.
Media Contacts: Dr Grahame Douglas, President NPA NSW (02) 9299 0000
- Extract from Legislative Council Hansard, 31 May 2023
The Hon. PENNY SHARPE (Minister for Climate Change, Minister for Energy, Minister for the Environment, and Minister for Heritage) (21:41)
People are talking about the great koala national park, which Labor is absolutely committed to establishing. I have mentioned several times in the House the process we would undertake in relation to that. But there is ongoing debate regarding some forestry operations within the notional boundaries of the great koala national park. In particular, I put on record the issue of Pine Creek. Within those areas plantation forests will be harvested. I make it very clear that Labor supports plantation forestry. Those trees were put in the ground to be harvested. We must be very clear about what is plantation and what is native forestry and the way in which that is managed throughout the process of creating the great koala national park. It is not Labor’s intention to have plantation forests included within the great koala national park.
For all of the talk about the support for plantation, we have plantation trees that have been growing for many years that are ready to be harvested. We must work with that. Obviously we need rules about how that harvesting occurs as well as an absolute precaution in relation to any threatened species. But it is important to draw the distinction because I am asked about it every single day. We must be very clear that we will be very careful. We are working closely with Forestry Corporation on the operation of planned forestry activity into the future. Importantly, plantation timbers—which everyone seems agree needs to happen—must be allowed to be harvested.