The NSW Government has today announced it will establish advisory panels to begin the process of creating the Great Koala National Park and move to protect koala hubs from logging within the proposed park. The announcement is a significant development in the six month conflict Labor waged against the community since they were elected on a promise of the Great Koala National Park in March but the Greens say it doesn’t go far enough in protecting koalas or the forests that make up the Great Koala National Park. Forest conflicts have escalated on the Mid North Coast in recent months, with the NSW Government activating logging of the forests of the Great Koala National Park that haven’t been touched in more than three decades.
Greens MP and spokesperson for the Environment Sue Higginson said “Of course this is a welcome announcement from the Government it’s about the implementation of their environmental protection election commitment but let’s be serious, this is a tiny step and should have been implemented six months ago,
“This Government needs to take a bigger step up. Koalas are in serious trouble and if we don’t stop destroying their 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.
“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.
“This announcement will do nothing to protect Oakes State Forest or the Kalang Headwaters, areas that were categorised as the highest priority conservation areas in the state by the former Government, that are within the boundaries of the proposed Great Koala National Park and that have koalas living in them.
“The Government has not fixed their political failure with this announcement because for as long as they are logging areas within the Great Koala National Park they are breaking their promise to the people of NSW.
“While the advisory panels commencing work is important, continuing logging of the areas that are not koala hubs will see critical koala habitat in the forests all around those hubs logged and will leave fragmented, disconnected areas that have lost much of their value as a proposed National Park.
“The Government has said they won’t stop the logging in the Great Koala National Park. That is the political failure and their position must change if they want to have any hope of genuine engagement with local communities.
“We must urgently protect critical habitat for forest dependent species and at this stage all native forests are critical habitat. The public native forests within the proposed Great Koala National Park are especially critical and should not have any logging operations allowed to continue or new operations to commence.
For media contact call Sue Higginson 0428 227 363