Showing posts with label extinction crisis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label extinction crisis. Show all posts

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Dispatches from the Australian Koala Wars


Echo NetDaily, 21 September 2020:


The Knitting Nannas standing up (and sitting down) for koalas in Casino.

The Knitting Nannas are holding regular public knit-ins in Casino in support of NEFA, to raise awareness about Forestry operations logging in koala habitat in particular in Myrtle Forest, near Casino which was severely impacted by last summers’ fires.

The Nannas say recent surveys by Dailan Pugh and NEFA volunteers found evidence of koala scats in Myrtle forest and additional roosting trees.

The Nannas say the forest needs to recover to enable koalas to recover.

SpokesNanna Rosie said that the recent government report that found koalas will be extinct by 2050 in the wild makes this imperative. ‘It is estimated Banyabba koalas which range this forest lost 83% of their population. Last week we had a long chat to an old forester who agrees that current Forestry practices are not sustainable…….

The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 September 2020:

Almost three-quarters of key habitat the Berejiklian government was planning to set aside for koala protection was burned in last summer's fires.  
The government announced in May 2018 it would begin to address the decline of koala numbers including preserving extra habitat, according to a Planning Department paper dated June 23 this year. 

It started to transfer more state land to the national parks system, including 1382 hectares from the Mount Boss State Forest to the Kindee Creek area and 2080 hectares earmarked in the Carrai State Forest to the Willi Willi National Park. 

However, last season's devastating bushfires burnt more than 5 million hectares in the state. Of the state forests transferred to national park tenure, 72 per cent "were impacted", as were about 58 per cent proposed flora reserve, the documents show...... 

ABC News, 23 September 2020: 

Agreements to change logging rules in New South Wales to better protect animals that survived last summer's bushfires have been torn up by Deputy Premier John Barilaro's department and government-owned loggers, sparking yet another inter-government stoush over koala habitat.  

An explosive letter sent earlier this month to the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) from the heads of the Department of Regional NSW — Mr Barilaro's department — and Forestry Corporation of NSW states there has now been "substantial recovery post-fire in many coastal state forests". 

It declares logging in NSW can return to "standard" this month in forests not covered by new site-specific logging rules. 

The letter comes despite an agreement struck between the loggers and the EPA earlier this year to only log areas according to those new rules. 

The letter sparked a fiery response from EPA boss Tracy Mackey, which was published yesterday on the EPA's website. 

She said the move did not appear to be lawful, and the EPA was now considering action to stop Forestry Corporation..... 

Other documents released to NSW Parliament earlier this month show the EPA believed the actions were partly motivated by the direction of Mr Barilaro, the Department of Regional NSW and Forestry Corporation. 

The documents also detail allegations that Forestry Corporation made false reports about its logging operations to avoid new protections.....

"Well the number of healthy and otherwise treatable Koala who have died from being hit on our roads this year is ridiculous, irreplaceable & equates to many future generations of Koala not being born." [Maria Mathes @talkingkoala, NSW Northern Rivers region, 17 September 2020]

Where is my tree?
Photo: 

The Guardian, 22 September 2020:

The former head of the New South Wales Young Nationals and chair of its women’s council has resigned from the party joining a growing list of high-profile members to quit in the wake of the koala policy saga. 

Jess Price-Purnell, an almost decade-long member of the Nationals, has left, describing the threat by John Barilaro to blow up the Coalition government over the koala policy saga “despicable”. 

It comes as the NSW Coalition held its first joint party room meeting since Barilaro was forced to back down over his threat to pull the Nationals out of the Coalition after the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, issued an ultimatum to either support the policy or resign from the ministry....

BACKGROUND

NorthEast Forest Alliance (NEFA), excerpts from website:

* The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) travelled out to Braemar State Forest in July 2019 to survey and protect koala habitat under logging rules that meant areas significant koala use would need to be protected. 

What we discovered blew us away with an exceptional population of an estimated 60+ koalas at risk of logging. 

Scat searches indicate there are over 100ha of Koala High Use areas – unprecedented in State Forests. What we found was so compelling that we returned multiple times and completed four different audits of koala evidence in the area. 

When we submitted this data to Forestry Corporation of NSW they simply announced they would be logging Braemar State Forest under the new logging rules meaning no koala habitat will be protected. 

We have estimated that homes of over 60 koalas will be decimated if this logging were to go ahead - unthinkable while local koala populations have halved in just 20 years. (source) With logging due to commence, we are turning to the community to come together in support of Braemar's koalas. 

We can stop this devastation, but we need your help....

* NEFA are preparing a proposal for the 7,000 ha Sandy Creek Koala Park covering significant Koala habitat in Braemar, Carwong, Royal Camp and Ellangowan State Forests, as well native vegetation on land Forestry Corporation purchased for pine plantations. The values of these forests for Koalas are documented in our audits,

These encompass a regionally significant Koala population in forests that have been degraded by logging, though are capable of supporting an expanding Koala population if left alone.

We were dismayed when on the night of 8 October the Busby's Flat fire changed direction and burnt out most of the proposal overnight. It was an anxious time while we waited to get in there and see how the Koalas had fared.


The good news was that while the understorey was incinerated, the fire had rarely crowned meaning quite a few Koalas survived. The bad news is that the crowns of most trees were cooked by the intense heat and the leaves have since died, leaving large areas devoid of food and most of the surviving Koalas with little to eat. 

NEFA have been assessing core Koala colonies and found that Koalas are surviving in the areas where large scattered feed trees, or patches of trees, have retained most of their canopies. With limited fresh feed and desiccated leaves some Koalas are dehydrated, and severely so. A report on this is available at https://www.nefa.org.au/audits 

This regionally significant Koala population has been severely affected by the fire, it has set back its recovery by decades. Help is needed to stabilise the population if further decline is to be averted. The last thing they need is for forestry to log their remaining feed trees.....

Monday, 14 September 2020

NSW Koalas Need Your Help - NOW! Phone or email a state government pollie today



Nort East Forest Alliance, media release, 10 September 2020:

Liberals need support to save Koalas from National Party



The North East Forest Alliance is calling on people who want core Koala habitat to be identified and protected from logging to contact the Liberal Party and encourage them to resist National Party bullying.

The Koala State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) was introduced by the coalition in 1995, with the then National Party member for Ballina, Don Page, claiming credit for it, NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.

"The SEPP basically requires the preparation of Koala Plans of Management (KPoM) that identify core Koala habitat. These are required to be prepared for individual Development Applications over core Koala habitat, though the emphasis is on Councils preparing shire wide Koala plans.

"Where Councils identify core Koala habitat it is identified as Sensitive Regulated Land and therefore can't be cleared under an exemption, and is excluded from logging under the Private Native Forest logging codes.

"This has been intended since the first 1994 Koala SEPP, yet the Koala inquiry identified that over the last 25 years only 6 comprehensive KPoMs have been approved, and these are mostly just for parts of Local Government Areas, and mostly don't identify core Koala habitat.

"The bipartisan Koala Inquiry found that the regulatory framework for private native forestry does not protect koala habitat with the theoretical protections for koalas 'weakened substantially, or indeed non-existent, when practically applied'.

"In 2019 the Coalition adopted a revamped Koala SEPP that tries to make the process for identifying core Koala habitat workable.

"Since then Timber NSW have been worried that if Councils identify core Koala habitat then they won't be able to log it, and have been targeting the National Party in a campaign to overturn the SEPP.

"The current threat by the National Party to resign from the Coalition is all about trying to make the identification of core Koala habitat unworkable so that it can continue to be logged and cleared.

"Koalas had declined by over 50% on the north coast since the Koala SEPP was first introduced 26 years ago, then in 2019/20 30% of their high quality habitat was burnt, with losses of 44-100% of Koalas from firegrounds. Since 2015 clearing of native vegetation has doubled, with no consideration of Koalas.

"Wild Koalas will likely go extinct in NSW by 2050 if the National Party continue like this.

"NEFA are asking people to email or phone the offices of Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Planning Minister Rob Stokes and Environment Minister Matt Kean to thank them for helping protect Koalas against National Party bullying. Encourage them to provide support to Councils to complete the mapping of core Koala habitat across NSW within 5 years.

"NEFA are also asking people to email or phone the offices of north coast National Party representatives to protest their attempts to remove protections for Koalas, such as Geoff Provest (Tweed), Chris Gulaptis (Clarence), Gurmesh Singh (Coffs Harbour), Leslie Williams (Port Macquarie), Melinda Pavey (Oxley), Stephen Bromhead (Myall Lakes) and Upper House representative Ben Franklin.

"We need to show that the community supports Koala protection" Mr. Pugh said.

Parliamentary contacts are at:


Thursday, 3 September 2020

Oh, the NSW National Party stupidity - it burns!

Koala in search of a tree at Iluka, Clarence Valley in the Northern Rivers
PHOTO: supplied

In the NSW Northern Rivers region, even before the devastating 2019-20 bushfires ripped through hundreds of thousands of hectares destroying forests and wildlife habitat, our koala populations were in decline due to rural/regional tree clearing, timber logging, local traffic and dogs.

Now post-fires, faced with a possible 70 per cent loss of the entire state's koala population and functional extinction on the horizon, a local National Party nitwit goes to the media with this statement.

ABC News, 2 September 2020:

A North Coast National Party MP has threatened to move to the crossbench if the State Government forces farmers to search for koalas on their property.

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis says a proposed bill that would force farmers to look for koalas before conducting any work on their land is ridiculous.

Mr Gulaptis says people in regional areas know how to care for their koala populations better than those in the city.

"We know how to manage our koalas in the regions and now we're being dictated by people in the city who decimated their koala population and [are] telling us what we need to do."

Friday, 14 August 2020

What little Koala habitat remaining in NSW is being logged right now


https://youtu.be/3JKA5ZoRDD4


Wildlife rescuer and arborist Kailas Wild shows us evidence of koalas in the middle of a logging operation in the Lower Bucca State Forest on the NSW North Coast.

The bushfires burnt over 2 million hectares of koala habitat and yet the state-owned logging agency Forestry Corporation is right now cutting down unburnt forests that koalas call home.

The NSW Government has the power to stop this destruction. We need to create a groundswell of support for protecting koala habitat. If more people know this destruction is happening and raise their voices in protest, we can work together to ensure our koalas are not forgotten.


Sunday, 26 July 2020

Australian governments receive yet another warning that mass extinction events are getting closer


All three tiers of Australian governments - federal, state and local - need to turn and face this reality.

Nature, Ecology & Evolution magazine, 20 July 2020:

Impact of 2019–2020 mega-fires on Australian fauna habitat 


Michelle Ward, Ayesha I. T. Tulloch, James Q. Radford, Brooke A. Williams, April E. Reside, Stewart L. Macdonald, Helen J. Mayfield, Martine Maron, Hugh P. Possingham, Samantha J. Vine, James L. O’Connor, Emily J. Massingham, Aaron C. Greenville, John C. Z. Woinarski, Stephen T. Garnett, Mark Lintermans, Ben C. Scheele, Josie Carwardine, Dale G. Nimmo, David B. Lindenmayer, Robert M. Kooyman, Jeremy S. Simmonds, Laura J. Sonter & James E. M. Watson 

Abstract 

Australia’s 2019–2020 mega-fires were exacerbated by drought, anthropogenic climate change and existing land-use management. 
Here, using a combination of remotely sensed data and species distribution models, we found these fires burnt ~97,000 km2 of vegetation across southern and eastern Australia, which is considered habitat for 832 species of native vertebrate fauna. 

Seventy taxa had a substantial proportion (>30%) of habitat impacted; 21 of these were already listed as threatened with extinction. 
To avoid further species declines, Australia must urgently reassess the extinction vulnerability of fire-impacted species and assist the recovery of populations in both burnt and unburnt areas. 

Population recovery requires multipronged strategies aimed at ameliorating current and fire-induced threats, including proactively protecting unburnt habitats. [my yellow highlighting]

The Guardian, 21 July 2020: 

The publication of the peer-reviewed study in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution followed the Morrison government on Monday releasing an independent review of the laws, known as the Environment Protection and Conservation Biodiversity (EPBC) Act. 

The interim review led by Graeme Samuel, a former competition watchdog head, found Australia’s environment was in an unsustainable state of decline and the laws were not fit to address current and future environmental challenges. 

Samuel recommended the introduction of national environmental standards that set clear rules for conservation protection while allowing sustainable development, and the establishment of an independent environmental regulator to monitor and enforce compliance. 

The environment minister, Sussan Ley, agreed to develop environmental standards, but rejected the call for an independent regulator and said she would immediately start work on an accreditation process to devolve responsibility for most environmental approvals to the states and territories. 

One of the Nature Ecology study’s authors, Prof James Watson, said the laws could be effective but only if protections were enforced. 

The act, which has been widely criticised for failing to stem a developing extinction crisis, largely leaves decisions to the discretion of the environment minister of the day.....

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Just a reminder that although the Australian Parliament is not regularly sitting during the COVID-19 pandemic, the drive to dismantle environmental protections continues apace


The Morrison Coalition Government, aided and abetted by the NSW Coalition Government and industry is pressing ahead with dismantling New South Wales environmental protections by omission & commission.

Here are just five examples.....

The Oops, my bad! Defence

The Age, 10 May 2020:

One of NSW's major thermal coal miners has admitted it submitted inaccurate figures on the carbon emissions impact of its fuel in an environmental declaration to the state government.

Centennial Coal stated in its submission for an extension of its Angus Place coal mine near Lithgow that burning its coal would produce 80 kilograms of carbon dioxide per tonne. Similar mines – including two of its own – actually cause 30 times more emissions, or 2.4 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of coal.

"Absolutely, we stuffed up," Katie Brassil, the company's spokeswoman said. "Our consultants got it wrong and so we got it wrong."

The assessment of emissions resulting from burning fossil fuels has become a sensitive one in NSW after approvals for two projects were rejected because of the impact of so-called Scope 3 or downstream emissions resulting from burning the product……

Don’t Look Here, Look Over There!

Channel 9 News, 9 May 2020:

A controversial plan for a US company to mine coal beneath a Sydney drinking water dam has been approved by the New South Wales state government while focus was on COVID-19.

Woronora reservoir, an hour's drive south of the CBD, is part of a system which supplies water to more than 3.4 million people in Greater Sydney.

The approval will allow Peabody Energy to send long wall mining machines 450 metres below the earth's surface to crawl along coal seams directly below the dam.

Dr Kerryn Phelps says the fact the decision was made "under the cover of coronavirus" is "unfathomable".

NSW has spent 12 of the last 20 years in drought, with record low rainfall plunging much of the state into severe water shortage last year.

"We know about the potential for catastrophe," Dr Phelps told 9News.com.au.

"We just cannot let this [decision] go unchallenged."…..

Washing Their Hands Of The Problems They Caused


Experts warn the Morrison government is not using its legal powers to protect wildlife from devastating bushfires, which killed billions of animals in the summer.

Under international law the Commonwealth is responsible for maintaining the biodiversity of World Heritage Areas. Under federal law, it’s also responsible for protecting threatened species listed under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Act. But experts say the Commonwealth is yet to fulfil its responsibilities.


A wombat in the charred remains of a Kangaroo Valley bushfire.CREDIT:WOLTER PEETERS

Environment minister Sussan Ley has argued states and territories have "primary" responsibility for wildlife. But environmental law expert, University of Tasmania professor Jan McDonald, said the environment minister is legally obliged to work with states to prevent bushfire damage to threatened species and World Heritage Areas.
A spokesman for Ms Ley said "other than Commonwealth-managed National Parks [such as Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta], natural disaster preparedness and response planning is led by states and territories as part of their role as the primary regulators of Australia’s plants and animals."….

Rigging The Books

The Guardian, 8 May 2020:

The federal government has stopped listing major threats to species under national environment laws, and plans to address listed threats are often years out of date or have not been done at all.

Environment department documents released under freedom of information laws show the government has stopped assessing what are known as “key threatening processes”, which are major threats to the survival of native wildlife.

Conservationists say it highlights the dysfunctional nature of Australia’s environmental framework, which makes aspects of wildlife protection optional for government.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act is being reviewed, a once-a-decade requirement under the legislation, and there are calls for greater accountability rules to be built into Australia’s environmental laws.

It follows longstanding criticism that the act is failing to curb extinction.

An unacceptable excuse’

In a series of reports since 2018, Guardian Australia has uncovered multiple failures including delays in listing threatened species and habitats, threatened species funding being used for projects that do not benefit species, critical habitat not being protected, and recovery actions for species not being adopted or implemented.

The act lists threats such as feral cats, land clearing and climate change as key threatening processes that push native plants and animals towards extinction.

Once a threat is listed, the environment minister decides whether a plan – known as a threat abatement plan – should be adopted to try to reduce the impact of the threat on native species.

But a 2019 briefing document shows the department has stopped recommending the government’s threatened species scientific committee assess new key threatening processes for potential listing.

Addressing threats to nature ... should not be treated as a luxury
Evan Quartermain”

Among its reasons given is that the department has limited resources to support the work.

The document says key threatening processes have “limited regulatory influence” – that they have little effect – and the department has limited capacity to support assessments of them. Because of this, the department did not recommend any of the key threatening processes put forward “as priorities for assessment”….

Quick, Before They Notice!

The Guardian, 23 April 2020:

The environment minister, Sussan Ley, has flagged the government may change Australia’s national environment laws before a review is finished later this year.

Ley said she would introduce “early pieces of legislation” to parliament if she could to “really get moving with reforming and revitalising one of our signature pieces of environmental legislation”.

It follows business groups and the government emphasising the need to cut red tape as part of the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, and comes as the businessman Graeme Samuel chairs an independent statutory review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. An interim report is due in June, followed by a final report in October.

When the review was announced, the government said it would be used to “tackle green tape” and speed up project approvals.

Environmental organisations have stressed the need for tougher environmental protections to stem Australia’s high rate of extinction. Australia has lost more than 50 animal and 60 plant species in the past 200 years and recorded the highest rate of mammalian extinction in the world over that period.

Ley said, with the interim report due by the middle of the year, she expected Samuel would “in the course of the review, identify a range of measures that we can take to prevent unnecessary delays and improve environmental standards”.

Where there are opportunities to make sensible changes ahead of the final EPBC review report, I will be prepared to do so,” she said.

On Thursday, Ley and the prime minister, Scott Morrison, said work was already under way to speed up environmental assessments of projects and that the number of on time “key decisions” in the EPBC process had improved from 19% in the December quarter to 87% in the March quarter…..

An environment department spokesman said key decisions covered three items in the assessment process: the decision on whether a project requires assessment under the act, the decision on what assessment method will be used, and the final decision on whether or not to approve the project.....

Thursday, 5 March 2020

The Future Eaters have re-commenced logging in forests affected by the 2019-20 mega bushfires


Styx River State Forest, in the New England Tablelands region of New South Wales, covers 16,000 hectares. 

The Brisbane Times reported on 26 February 2020:

Conservation efforts in NSW to stop more species becoming extinct in the wake of this season's unparalleled bushfires require more than half a billion dollars over the coming four years. 

Emergency intervention to save as many as 30 endangered species alone needs $15 million this year and $35 million in both the 2021-22 and 2022-23 fiscal years, according to a spreadsheet circulating among state government agencies and obtained by the Sun-Herald. 

A burnt area of the Styx River State Forest in northern NSW.Logging has resumed in the area despite most of the region being burnt.
The leaked requests come as Forestry Corporation resumed logging in unburnt refuges in the Styx River State Forest despite risks to species including nationally endangered Hastings River mice.....

While officials wrangle over conservation funding, industrial-scale logging has resumed in fire-hit regions such as the Styx River, inland from Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast. 

Chris Gambian, chief executive of the Nature Conservation Council, said the logging would have "immensely negative ecological impacts" given so little of the Styx River forest was unburnt. An endangered Hastings River mouse, from a photograph taken in January 2018. 

“The fires mean that whatever we thought before about wildlife and species has to be scrapped and reassessed," Mr Gambian said, adding he had asked the Environment Protection Authority to issue a statewide stop-work order for logging in native forests state until the effects of the fires are known. 

“Logging remnant forests after such a disaster is like sending a demolition crew in to conduct a cyclone recovery operation," he said. "It is hard to imagine a more harmful intervention." 

Mr Gambian noted the government's own analysis indicated at least 32 threatened animal species alone had lost at least 30 per cent of their habitat due to fires, and were now "teetering on the brink".....

A Forestry Corporation spokeswoman said the majority of production crews on the north coast had moved from native forests to hardwood timber plantations after the fires. 

"A small number of selective harvesting operations that commenced prior to the fires have continued under the strict regulations governing native forestry in NSW," she said, adding that crews in the Styx River State Forest were "finalising work in this location" and will move some harvesting operations into fire-affected forests "in the near future".....

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Presentations on the plight of Koala populations will be held at Maclean and Lawrence on 14 August 2019 - be there to support Lower Clarence koalas


Koala at Lawrence in the Lower Clarence Valley
Photograph supplied

Deborah Tabart, Chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation is coming to brief the local community on the plight of koalas and why we need a Koala Protection Act. 

It is amazing that we do not have such an Act to protect one of Australia’s iconic animals. As we know, koala numbers are declining and this issue is now very topical in our area, especially around Lawrence, where koala habitat trees are under threat.

Ms Tabart will be visiting Lawrence and adding the koalas there to the Foundation’s koala map. If you know where koalas are living in the Lower Clarence please come along to the presentation to make sure that all the koala habitats are added to the map. 

There will be two information sessions in the Clarence Valley on Wednesday the 14th August one at 11 AM and one at 6.00 PM. 

Maclean Branch of the NSW Country Women’s Association invites everyone to the Koala presentation at 11 AM on Wednesday 14 August at the CWA Rooms, 40 River Street, Maclean followed by a light lunch. 

A donation of $5 is requested to help with catering. Please let the CWA know via Linda if you are coming so that we will have enough chairs and lunch. Ring Linda on 02 66 47 7373 or email santilinda@aapt.net.au 

The next session is at 6 PM in the evening at the Lawrence Hall, located between the pub and the shop, with a light supper provided for free. 

Ring or text Elizabeth on 0407 883 656 or email elizabethparker96@rocketmail.com. It helps to know how many to cater for. 

These events are friendly and informal and a great way to meet interesting people. 

Bring your Koala questions and your appetite.