The impact on native animals and their environment after five months of logging by Forestry Corporation, between Dunns Creek and Dog Trap road Batemans Bay is now being assessed. Logging was completed under intense scrutiny from the community and the Environmental Protection Agency. Forestry and Government refused repeated requests to cease logging declaring the practice environmentally sustainable.
Logging concluded a month earlier than planned due to escalating opposition from the community. Repeated recommendations made by the EPA to Forestry Corp to adhere to regulations, regarding the retention of yellow bellied glider feed trees combined with constant requests from wildlife experts and the public to spare wombat burrows, hollow bearing, nest and National Trust nominated trees as well as the walking and mountain bike riding trail, resulted in the logging of Dunns Creek completed with much more care and diligence in adhering to the IFOA’s (the regulations governing native forest logging, intended to manage forests in an ecologically sustainable way) than normally shown.
While this was the best result the community could hope for, with logging ongoing, it is far from cause for celebration.
It is a clear indicator that even under the strictest adherence, the IFOA’s fail to manage native forests in an ecologically sustainable way.
A faunal survey conducted by community members on Saturday night sadly failed to show any evidence of the greater gliders or the yellow bellied gliders who’s discovery was celebrated just months ago. In fact no nocturnal animals were sighted or heard except for the distant thumping of a wallaby.
‘Dunns Creek was so dense with wildlife, all manner of marsupials, birds and reptiles inhabited this area. It’s like a ghost town at night now, even in the zones excluded from logging’, said Lisa Pfitzner of the Dunns Creek resident’s action group. “It’s very unnatural, you’re surrounded by trees that used to rustle under the mass of nocturnal native animals scampering about feeding and socialising and now it’s deadly quite. We camped there just prior to logging in June; there was so much animal activity. You can hear a pin drop after night fall now.”
“Unfortunately the nocturnal gliders were obviously not asleep in selected habitat trees or the creek exclusion zone when the industrial logging machines arrived. Even if they were lucky enough to escape the actual logging, it’s highly unlikely they would survive sharing their hollows with other animals seeking refuse from the terrifying onslaught of these machines”, said Ms Pfitzner
If a catastrophe on this scale occurred to people, it would result in a global humanitarian crisis. It’s like expecting an entire suburbs population to move into a few houses while the rest of the neighbourhood is demolished, with no notice or assistance and with family and friends left inside, and then leaving the remaining population to sort out their problems with no alternate accommodation or medical help provided, then proceeding to demolish the suburbs nearby.
In any other circumstance animal cruelty is punishable by law, however the NSW IFOA’s state “This licence authorises the conduct of forestry operations that are likely to;
Result in harm to a threatened species (being an animal) or protected fauna.
The picking of a threatened species (being a plant) or protected plant; or
Damage to the habitat of threatened species.”
A day time faunal survey has shown no fresh evidence of Gliders using a retained feed tree. This is not surprising as the tree has a log dump built at its base and all surrounding trees cleared. Log dumps built on yellow bellied glider feed trees complies with the IFOA’s and is a common practice of Forestry Corporation. “One could conclude that it plays in Forestry Corps favour to damage these creatures habitat, ensuring the 15 trees required to be retained for feed trees are not necessary when logging is undertaken again. “said Ms Pfitzner.
Fresh evidence of wombats is scarce, indicating the burrows, were not entirely avoided, Industrial logging machines require bulldozers to create access, any animal hoping to escape by burrowing as our native animals do when threatened, will have been crushed.
The trails that were so enjoyable a few months ago are now covered with fallen “waste” tree canopies. Industrial logging has decimated so many of the communities’ forested recreational areas. The rainforest features at Dunns Creek are already drying out and dying, without the protection of the trees.’
An industrial logging machine can fell a tree, many hundreds of year’s old, remove its canopy, strip its bark and ready it for the placement of a bar code all in seven seconds. This gives terrified animals hiding in their tree hollows (that take nature at least 100 years to form) virtually no chance of escape.
With forestry regarding a tree aged 35 years to be over-mature; logging will occur again in the near future if the IFOA’s which last for twenty years and are currently expiring are renewed by federal government.
Alarmingly Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball resigned the Tasmanian IFOA’s in August and intends to open up 400,000 ha of Tasmanian reserves to logging in July 2018 calling them “wood lots”
The Australian institute reports native forest logging a financial failure, being supported by government subsidies to the tune of millions of dollars each year. An objection to Forestry Corporation will receive a lengthy reply, touting hundreds of hours of scientific research into the ecological soundness of logging each area. “You don’t need a degree to clearly see logging is in no way environmentally sustainable. Everyone from a four year old child to a ninety five year old with dementia can see the devastation caused by industrial logging. It seems insane our government condones and subsidises this practice of mass-slaughtering our native flora and fauna yet spends millions of dollars on threatened species recovery schemes.” said Ms Pfitzner.
“Industrial logging is an outrageous draconian practice, similar to dynamiting fish or mining sand at a local beach; it has turned our forests into virtual plantations and is causing a drastic change in our climate. An unlogged forest captures 60 times more carbon than a logged forest. "Unlogged forests capture and create rainfall and absorb vast quantities of heat. They cool our planet and clean our air. In this day and age of climate change and species extinction, our forests are worth so much more in the ground as a carbon capture device and native animal habitat than as wood chips to be sent to Japan and China, at a financial loss, via the Eden woodchip mill.”
“Australia should follow New Zealand’s example and harvest only from carefully managed plantations. The community of New Zealand united to oppose and ban native forest logging. Australia can do the same.
The community can reject the resigning of the NSW IFOA’s by writing to, or calling local, state and federal government ministers and shadow ministers and expressing their opposition to native forest logging. You can also sign and share the National Parks Association’s online petition at http://logging.sucks/petition.html
With our government not taking responsibility for our environment it is up to Australian communities to protect the legacy we leave for future generations.” concluded Ms Pfitzner.