Friday 20 March 2020

State MPs dismayed at NSW Forestry logging unburnt habitat after bushfires

Endangered species have lost up to 82% of their habitat but Environment Protection Authority says logging of unburnt forest is legal

Sat 14 Mar 2020 19.00 GMTLast modified on Sat 14 Mar 2020 23.55 GMT

Logging is continuing in NSW forest north-west of Coffs Harbour in bushland that is proposed for the Great Koala national park. Photograph: International Fund For Animal Welfare

The New South Wales Forestry Corporation has continued to log unburnt forest that is habitat for some of the most imperilled species in the aftermath of the state’s bushfire crisis.

Logging operations have continued in the Styx River state forest on the north coast that is now remnant habitat for endangered species including the greater glider and the Hastings River mouse.

Both the federal and state governments have identified the mouse, which had 82% of its habitat burnt, as one of the species most at risk of extinction as a result of the bushfire disaster.

Trucks have also moved into an area of the Lower Bucca state forest north-west of Coffs Harbour in bushland that is part of the proposed Great Koala national park.

Twenty-four per cent of koala habitat in eastern NSW was burnt in the fire crisis and the environment minister, Sussan Ley, has said up to 30% of the koala population on the mid north coast may have been killed.

Environment groups and the independent state MLC Justin Field have expressed dismay that NSW Forestry Corporation has been able to continue with harvest plans in unburnt forest that is now important remnant habitat for wildlife.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW asked the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to investigate the logging. But the council’s chief executive said it was told that operations could not be halted when Forestry Corporation was not in breach of its approvals.

The council is now calling on the state government to suspend the coastal integrated forestry operations approval (IFOA) until assessments of the impact of the fires are complete.

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