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Loggers targeting one fifth of planned NSW koala park

Urgent changes are needed to Australia's biodiversity offsets system, which is failing to stem the rapid destruction of the environment, experts warn.

Urgent changes are needed to Australia's biodiversity offsets system, which is failing to stem the rapid destruction of the environment, experts warn. Photo: Getty

Loggers are accused of “ramping up” operations before the NSW government establishes its Great Koala National Park, targeting vast swathes of the area set aside for conservation.

Nature Conservation Council (NCC) analysis shows 30,813 hectares of state forest earmarked for the park could be logged by the Forestry Corporation of NSW in the next year.

The $80 million Great Koala National Park was announced by Labor before the NSW election, with the party looking to protect the endangered marsupial population across the mid-north coast.

NCC chief executive Jacqui Mumford says the government’s commitment to national park includes funds for planning and expert scientific advice, but up to 20 per cent of the park may be logged before the process begins.

Logging is planned in some of the most vital koala habitat areas, including at Wild Cattle Creek, Clouds Creek, Pine Creek and the Boambee State Forest on the mid-north coast, the analysis shows.

“Forestry Corp knows this national park is coming and they are deliberately ramping up operations within its boundaries to extract as much timber from it as possible.”

Ms Mumford called on the government to immediately halt logging operations in all areas that will become part of the national park.

“The Great Koala National Park proposal was developed by leading scientists, ecologists and local environmental groups, including the National Parks Association, who identified the most important areas of koala habitat in NSW,” she said.

“All of these areas need to be protected if we are to ensure the survival of koalas in the wild.”

The Forestry Corporation of NSW manages the logging of more than 20,000 square kilometres of native and plantation forests. It was recently fined more than $500,000 in the Land and Environment Court for illegal logging activities.

Environment Minister Penny Sharpe and the NSW Forestry Corporation have been contacted for comment.

– AAP

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