Researcher warns of killing zones inside new koala park

There is renewed pressure on the NSW government to end logging in NSW native forests.

There is renewed pressure on the NSW government to end logging in NSW native forests. Photo: AAP

NSW’s proposed koala park will be full of holes and won’t protect the state’s dwindling population from deadly logging threats, a new research paper warns.

Conservation and policy researchers from three universities have produced a scathing assessment of the government’s plans for a Great Koala National Park to help safeguard the endangered species.

They warn some of the best koala habitat exists within forests that are zoned as plantation.

But under current plans, plantations will be excluded from the proposed park, west of Coffs Harbour, and subjected to ongoing logging.

Co-author and Griffith University environmental researcher Tim Cadman says that will be a disaster for koalas who’ll be left with a fragmented refuge that’s full of holes.

“I’ve coined a term for it. I call it the Swiss cheese effect where we’ll basically have permanent killing zones within the park,” he told AAP.

Some of the plantation areas are more than half a century old and are magnets for koalas that face death when timber harvesters move in, Cadman says.

“Those plantations will be progressively cleared and the clear felling will kill koalas. They’ll be replanted again and down the track, when Forestry comes back, if there are any koalas left, they’ll be killed.”

The paper will be published in coming days in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Social Quality.

“Ongoing forestry operations scattered throughout the park severely compromise the ecological integrity of the Great Koala National Park,” it warns.

“… unless all forestry activities are ended within the (park) footprint, and the area is listed as World Heritage, conservation strategies will not protect this internationally acclaimed icon, nor its habitat.”

Dr Danielle Clode is a conservation biologist from Flinders University and co-authored the paper.

Her work includes an award-winning book on koalas that explores their complex relationship with humans, and what they need to survive.

She says koalas won’t get good outcomes while there’s a fixation on labels that don’t reflect the ecological value of forests.

“If koalas use them, that’s what we need to protect. Just because it’s been logged at some distant point in the past … it doesn’t really matter.”

The state-owed Forestry Corporation said the koala park was a government policy, and questions should be directed to the environment minister.

AAP sought comment from the minister, Penny Sharpe, but did not receive a response.


Topics: koala
Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.