Monday, November 28, 2022

Greens to introduce Bill to prohibit forestry operations in koala habitat – saying it’s time: Higginson

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Australian Rural & Regional News has asked a question of Sue Higginson and Senator Hanson-Young, set out below the release. This article relates to the ongoing debate on ARR.News: Open for Debate: Koalas

The Hon. Sue Higginson, NSW Greens MP, Media Release, 8 November 2022

The NSW Greens will give notice of a bill in the Legislative Council that would prohibit forestry operations in areas that have been identified as koala habitat in a signal to the Government and Opposition that the unprofitable destruction of state forests and protecting koalas and their habitat is an election priority. 

Koala

The Forestry Amendment (Koala Habitats) Bill 2022 would make it an offence to carry out forestry operations in areas of regional koala significance (ARKS) as published on the SEED Map or in areas that have been assessed as koala habitat by a suitably qualified person that has relevant tertiary qualifications and has experience in fauna surveys.

NSW Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment Sue Higginson said “This bill is a signal to the Government that this is an essential step to saving koalas from extinction and is as simple as an amendment to the Forestry Act. We could save money, protect jobs and stimulate the economy while also taking immediate action to slow the extinction crisis in NSW,

“The NSW Koala Strategy that is funded through to 2026 is costing more than $190 million in an attempt to double the koala population in NSW but the report by Frontier Economics shows that we could end public native forest logging for just $30 million per year over 10 years,

“The native hardwood division of NSW Forestry Corporation costs the state as much as $20 million per year and should be rapidly transitioned to profitable and sustainable plantations. This move would mean upwards of a $1 billion going back into the economy from nature based tourism and community investment,

“Protecting forestry workers from losing their jobs and communities that rely on the industry are a priority for us and the shortfall of harvestable native timber in NSW is already threatening them. The Government should intervene now to protect workers, communities and the environment through the inevitable transition to 100% sustainable plantations, 

“If the Government was serious about protecting koalas or any of our native animals threatened with extinction then they could introduce a bill to do so – just like I am doing today. It would save NSW money and save many of our forest dependent threatened species from extinction by taking a proactive approach to a looming crisis for industry and nature.” Ms Higginson said

Australian Greens Spokesperson for the Environment Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said:

“This bill is a piece of the plan that NSW needs to end native forest logging. There must be an end in sight to this destructive industry, for the sake of our precious forests and the wildlife that call them home.

“The current trajectory for koalas sees our iconic animal extinct in NSW by 2050, which would be an international shame. The NSW Government could turn this around tomorrow by protecting critical habitat instead of greenlighting its destruction.

“I will continue to push the Federal Government to back the Greens Save the Koala Bill which is currently before the senate. The bill would introduce a moratorium on land clearing of critical habitat and give real protection to the places our wildlife call home.

“Koalas and other threatened species in NSW have been hammered by logging, mining and development, climate fires, and a fundamentally flawed offsets scheme, they need urgent protection now.” Ms Hanson-Young said.

Question from Australian Rural & Regional News

Australian Rural & Regional News has asked Sue Higginson and Senator Hanson-Young the following question. Their response will be published here once received.

“Annual monitoring of koala occurrence in [north east] hinterland forests since 2015 has found a stable trend over time at a regional level” and “(t)rend data are generally not available from other regions” and that “regulated timber harvesting had no significant impact on koala density”,

and this means that regulated timber harvesting is not a threat to koalas, so the premise of the Forestry Amendment (Koala Habitats) Bill 2022 is flawed?

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