The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has responded to the sad news of the estimated deaths of up to 10,000 koalas in NSW by confirming regenerative forestry will continue as one of the best things that can occur to support the marsupials’ future survival.

Chief Executive Officer of AFPA Ross Hampton said, “Koalas and a vast number of native species have been lost as these mega fires have ravaged national parks and some multiple use forests where timber harvesting and regenerating takes place. Some are estimating that we have lost more than a billion native animals so far over this fire season across Australia.

“The best science has shown that native animals prosper in forests managed for timber and other values.

“Over the last two years Dr Brad Law, scientist from the NSW Department of Primary Industries conducted fieldwork to examine the true state of the north coast NSW Koala population. Dr Law’s work covered 1.7 million hectares using breakthrough ‘sound monitoring’ techniques. Dr Law’s research found:

Past timber harvesting did not influence koala occupancy. There was no difference in results between heavily harvested, lightly harvested and old growth sites. Time since harvesting and the amount of harvesting in the local area did not influence occupancy. There was also no difference between National Park and State forest sites.[i]

“However, what was clear from the study is that fire is very bad for koalas:

We found that occupancy was influenced by elevation, cover of important browse trees, site productivity and extent of wildfire in the last 10 years.

“As this fire season continues, it is becoming clearer that multiple use forests, with their people, heavy machinery and extensive secondary and tertiary roading networks are a far safer option for people and koalas.

“Hundreds of forest industry employees are currently fighting fires directly, and those with the heavy machinery such as contractors with bulldozers and tree felling equipment are working to make communities safe.  They are also opening up roads for residents to leave fire threatened areas. These people are as much Hi Viz heroes as our volunteer fire fighters.

“There is no appetite by the vast number of Australians to create yet more national parks and make communities less safe – especially when science says native species are equally at home in multiple use forests.”

 

 

[i] https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/about-us/media-centre/releases/2018/acoustics-provide-new-insights-on-koalas-in-hinterland-forests