Unexpected research outcomes for koalas and native forest harvesting

Timber NSW

The NSW north coast forestry koala habitat protection practices are working well. Latest research from the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) has settled beyond all doubt that koalas are safe and sound living and traversing the hardwood forests where highly regulated harvesting occurs

Timber NSW welcomes research conducted over three years released by the Natural Resource Commissioner and NSW Chief Scientist, Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte who states that, “koala density was higher than anticipated in the surveyed forests and was not reduced by selective harvesting.”

“This very significant finding totally vindicates the skilful ability of the forest managers to care for the land under their responsibility and protect koalas,” said CEO Maree McCaskill.

Not only do koalas successfully coexist with selective forest harvesting but the research found no difference in koala density between National Parks and the state forest harvest areas on the North Coast.

“That finding will upset the eco-warriors but will not surprise the forest industry.”

“Enormous care and expertise is exercised by NSW forest ecologists and they deserve credit for the role they play.”

“The public gets tired of environmental organisations who constantly predict catastrophe and extinction, causing panic and alarm. People like to know the truth and this independent scientific research should reassure everyone in NSW that the iconic koala is not in the least bit threatened by forestry.”

“The industry rarely agrees with the NRC and its reports but on this occasion, we gave it a tick”.

The research included tracking GPS-collared koalas. Even at old intensively harvested sites (which pre-dated modern selective harvesting practices) koalas were present. Koalas were found to be using the full range of the available habitats five to 10 years post-harvest, including regenerating forest.

“As the NRC pointed out regulation mandates the retention of priority koala browse trees as well as other habitat protection within working forests,”.

“In fact native forest tree harvesting and regeneration occurs under very strict regulation and highly skilled forest ecologists and forest scientists work fulltime to ensure flora and fauna are protected.”

Many Timber NSW members live in close proximity to these magnificent north coast forests and love them. “It is such great news that there is now scientific proof that koala populations’ safely live and traverse in working forests. That is exactly what our members tell us they observe in their local forests and have done so for generations.”

There is of course disruption in the short term after harvest and that is why feed species trees are retained on the harvest sites to support koalas along with substantial areas of conservation reserves inside these working forest areas.

“There is also a tiny scale to the native forest harvesting in NSW. In any one year about 0.2% of the 22 million plus hectares is harvested for timber and then every harvested tree is regenerated (regrown) under NSW law.

Unlike the constant tree clearing for building new roads or suburbs, 21st century forestry is not land clearing or deforestation and it supports good outcomes for koalas.

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