Thursday 28th of September 2023

save the forests, please ministers, premier, bulldozer drivers, chain saw operators.....

State-owned Forestry Corporation’s latest effort to start logging Oakes State Forest is threatening the NSW Government’s promised Great Koala National Park. It’s attracting local consternation and global condemnation, Sue Arnold reports.

Gigantic logging trucks and bulldozers tearing down trees, big old growth giants, fauna habitats, destroying endangered flora as the operation tramples everything in its path. All witnessed by devastated, angry people, desperate to end the annihilation.

A team of international scientists arriving at a site proposed for the Park have been shocked by the extensive large scale destructive logging, saying they did not expect a country like Australia would employ such logging practices.

Professor Helge Bruelheide, told ABC Radio that he believed the area should be declared World Heritage because of the unique combination of Gondwana rainforest variants as “these forests are unique globally, so unique that you won’t find in this particular combination elsewhere.”

The clear cutting employed by the Forestry Corporation is leaving few trees standing. Professor Bruelheide said that the proposed Koala park should be created without delay and logging should stop immediately. If not, he says,

there will be complete habitat destruction of trees, forest fauna and flora. Many of these species are already threatened with extinction.

 Kalang forests

Oakes State Forest is part of the Kalang forests which make up Kalang Headwaters, feeding the Kalang, Nambucca and Bellingen Rivers. The aquatic ecosystems supply residents of Urunga and Bellingen with their drinking water.

Friends of Kalang Headwaters, a group that’s campaigned for years to have the area declared a Nature reserve, say emerging evidence demonstrates the aquatic ecosystems are amongst the oldest and most stable freshwater systems on the planet.

The catchment ensures water security for the viability of agricultural, fishing and tourism industries. Keeping all the forest cover is essential for the continuation of flowing rivers. Maintenance of cover is also important for rainfall, seeding new growth.

The Forestry Corporation is now able to log on steeper slopes to get to the big old trees so vital for threatened species with soil erosion spewing sediment into the river systems.

 Logging destruction

Dr Timothy Cadman is monitoring the destruction currently caused by Forestry Corporation’s almost 20 km of roading and forestry operations to facilitate logging of Oakes.

In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, he wrote:

“The level of dust, up to six inches deep, is now making its way into the nearby nature reserve covering plants, making them inedible to a critical range of fauna. Already dust plumes are making their way down the drainages, ending up in the Kalang River and adjacent watercourses.“

No changes resulted from his letter.

Collectively, Kalang forests comprise a key component of a core Gondwanan refuge of critical significance for the survival of ancient ecosystems and species. Described as a “jewel in the crown” of the state’s native forests, Oakes many forest species are designated endangered under Commonwealth legislation.

 Threats of extinction

One of the species threatened with extinction by the industrial logging of Oakes is the habitat of the Rufous scrub-bird, described by local citizen scientists as the “most ancient song bird on the planet”.

The Edge of Existence group, a leading UK conservation organisation, believe the Rufous Scrub-bird is a living fossil that evolved 97–65 million years ago. An elusive bird of high-elevation rainforest, the Rufous is confined to a tiny range in northern NSW and southern Queensland.

Kalang forests are steep and lush. They support a core population of nationally significant interconnected breeding populations of koalas. With ongoing destruction of habitat, shared by significant biodiversity, koalas are on the extinction juggernaut, too.

The Friends of Kalang headwaters website is getting more than 5000 hits a day from people outraged by the hypocrisy of the Labor government. Little wonder when Premier Chris Minns Facebook page declares that a koala patient at the Port Stephens wildlife hospital is excited by

our plan to help save Koalas from extinction in NSW.

 What plan?

A response from the spokesperson for Minister for Agriculture, Regional NSW and Western NSW sums up the government’s policy of non-action.

  • The Government has been clear from the start – we’re committed to a Great Koala National Park.
  • When it comes to logging and the timber industry, I am working with my colleagues, my departments and stakeholders to get the balance right. We need a truly sustainable timber industry in NSW, as well as strong protection for crucial habitat.

In spite of the extraordinary extent and breadth of protests, Premier Minns and his Minister for the Environment, Penny Sharpe. remain deaf to the destruction.

The best Penny Sharpe can do is mouthing the same old “Saving koalas from extinction with the creation of the Great Koala National Park is Labor’s largest single environmental election commitment.”

Hollow words, Minister.



not enough?

Logging has been halted in NSW forests flagged as potential sites for koala hubs as the state government seeks to save the iconic species from extinction.

The Minns Labor government has committed to establishing a Great Koala National Park on the state’s mid-north coast, including 106 koala hubs.

Advisory panels made up of industry, community and Indigenous representatives will be established to provide input on the park’s creation.


While work to establish the park is carried out, the government announced timber harvesting had been halted by the NSW Forestry Corporation from September 1.

The proposed koala hubs cover more than 8400ha of state forest in areas where there is strong evidence of multi-generational, high-density populations of the animal.

The hubs cover about five per cent of the Great Koala National Park assessment area, but contain 42 per cent of recorded wild koala sightings since 2000.

The government is in talks with the forestry corporation on the next steps of the ban and to determine timber supply options.

Environment Minister Penny Sharpe said the park’s creation was essential for saving koalas from extinction in NSW.

“The government is taking serious steps towards its creation and will work closely with the community, Aboriginal organisations and industry as the areas for inclusion in the park are assessed,” she said.

Greens environment spokeswoman Sue Higginson said the announcement was welcome, but that continued logging in areas not flagged as koala hubs could still lead to critical habitats being destroyed.

She said the government needed to go further to protect the state’s at-risk koala population.


“Koala hubs should be protected across the entire public native forest estate at a minimum, not as a bold announcement about a proposed national park,” Ms Higginson said.

“If we don’t stop destroying (koala) habitat across the state, they will be extinct before 2050.

“Voluntary undertakings by the forestry corporation to avoid koala hubs within one area of the public forest estate, while good, will not make the difference that koalas need.”








scamming the koalas....

In response to public outrage, Premier Chris Minns and Environment Minister Penny Sharpe today announced that 5% of the proposed great koala national park would be protected from logging. What’s the scam?

The scam is that this is a mere 8400 hectares of the 175,000 to be spared while “government consults with experts about plans to establish the park.”

Others suggest it is better than nothing, with Sophie Scamps, MP, saying in a statement today that “the news that logging in “koala hubs” will cease is a win for koalas and all other species that call these forests home, for the local tourism industry and for local Indigenous communities who have campaigned strongly against the destruction of this crucial habitat.”

According to Sue Arnold of Australians for Animals, only a small number of forests identified as koala hubs are spared. But Oakes/Kalang forests will get the chop. Logging begins on Friday, say local sources.

There were 106 koala hubs identified in 2017 as having evidence of hi density populations, which make up the 5% of the park which thegovernment have designated as not to be logged. Conservation groups say 20% of the state’s koala population is within the park area, making 5% protection a token effort.

An estimated 30% of koalas on the mid-north coast died in the Black Summer bushfires, up to 30% of their habitat destroyed. No population surveys have been undertaken since the fires. Connectivity, the fate of significant biodiversity which shares the same ecosystem, is ignored.

Conservationists battling Forestry Corporation say the protected hectares are nowhere near enough, will not prevent extinction, and that logging needs to stop throughout the whole Park immediately. To add insult to injury, “Logging native forests in NSW is a loss-making exercise. Over the last two years, the NSW Government has subsidised the native forest logging division of NSW Forestry Corporation to the tune of $30 million just to keep it afloat,” according to Sophie Scamps.