James Sherwood, NPA Conservation Campaigner
Concerns for high value habitat in the Great Koala National Park
Four months since the new state government took office, we are no closer to the Great Koala National Park’s establishment. There is a lack of clarity around the process for the park’s creation, which has led to locals questioning whether the integrity of the proposed park’s values will remain intact.
Many locals believe the announcement by the NSW Government to create a Great Koala National Park has led to a rapid escalation of forestry activity in the region as Forestry Corporation race to extract as much timber as possible before its creation.
Since the 2019/20 black summer bushfires, 29 of the 45 state forests in the Great Koala National Park have experienced some form of logging or are planned for logging in the next 12 months (see Figure 1). Rather than applying the precautionary principle and leaving these forests as refuges for surviving flora and fauna, Forestry Corporation has expanded their operations to over 64% of the proposed Great Koala National Park, and right now logging threatens many of the forests that were spared by the 2019/20 bushfires, putting endangered species like the koala and greater glider at great risk.
Logging has now commenced in Orara East State Forest, located just 6kms from Coffs Harbour’s CBD. Over 100 protestors gathered to show their dissatisfaction with the logging operation during a series of protests that lasted days and delayed the operation. In Boambee State Forest, just to the south, protests also temporarily stopped logging operations. Both forests are important refuge sites for coastal koala populations.
In Pine Creek State Forest, adjacent to Bongil Bongil National Park, a well-known koala hotspot, compartments covering an astonishing 49% of the entire state forest are now up for logging according to Forestry Corporation’s plan portal. Much of this area is mapped as high koala likelihood forest and contains questionable plantation that has been documented in a series of videos produced by NPA NSW.
Conservation community celebrates City of Coffs Harbour Council’s motion in support of the Great Koala National Park
The 13 July 2023 was a big day of celebration for Coffs Harbour’s conservation community as Councillor Jonathan Cassell (an NPA member) moved a motion on the GKNP. The motion seeks to ensure that the Council becomes a proactive driver in the establishment of the GKNP.
Bellingen Shire passed a motion in support of the Great Koala National Park last year.
NOTICE OF MOTION PASSED ‘DRIVING A GREAT KOALA NATIONAL PARK’
- Actively supports the establishment of a proposed Great Koala National Park (GKNP).
- Seeks a seat at the table for the negotiation of the proposed GKNP.
- Investigates funding opportunities from State and Federal Government to implement supporting actions for current or future funding designated to establishing a GKNP.
- Prepares a submission to the tourism report that the State Government has committed to completing as part of the establishment of a GKNP.
- Provides relevant data to key community organisations at no cost and prepares a submission to the natural and cultural studies report currently being prepared by the State Government as part of the establishment of a GKNP.
- Approaches other Councils affected by a proposed GKNP to consider a co-operative and proactive response to its implementation.
- Approaches the State Government seeking involvement in the identification and planning of a GKNP Visitor Centre in Coffs Harbour LGA e.g. the Mailman’s track overpass site near Pine Creek.
- That this be funded from Environmental Levy as a Major Strategic Program and Project.
- Invites the government to hold some or all of the negotiations in Coffs Harbour.
GKNP Harvest History since 2019/20 bushfires