Koalas 'under siege' from policy changes set to destroy habitat, report finds

New South Wales government is failing to protect koalas by allowing further land clearing, logging and habitat destruction, National Parks Association says


www.theguardian.com

Koalas are “under siege” across NSW, with three separate policies poised to be implemented set to destroy their remaining habitats, according to a briefing paper written by the National Parks Association of NSW.
In light of the increasing threats, the paper calls on the NSW EPA to protect koala habitats.
“The NSW government is completely failing to conserve and protect koala habitat,” the report says. “Koalas can lay claim to be the most poorly managed species in eastern Australia at present – which is hugely disappointing in light of their beloved status.”
The report finds the habitats of the declining koala populations are being threatened on public land by plans to renew agreements allowing the logging of native forests; on private lands by weakened clearing laws proposed by the Baird government; and by a failure of local government protections to identify more koala habitats as they are intended.
Between 1990 and 2010, Koala populations in NSW were estimated by the federal government to have declined by 30%. And a report released in May by the NSW Environmental Protection Agency found that all koala populations in NSW, with one possible exception, have continued to decline, with at least one population now considered endangered.
That EPA report also found there were more koalas in forests that were more mature. It therefore concluded that logging was bad for koalas, since even if the forests are replaced, it reduced the maturity of the forests.
“So the question for the EPA is what are they going to do to force the government to protect koalas?,” asked Oisin Sweeney an ecologist with the National Parks Association of NSW.
Since 1997 and 2001, state and federal governments signed Regional Forestry Agreements, which allowed logging of native forests for 20 years. Those begin to expire in 2017 but the federal government’s current policy is to extend them when they expire.
An analysis from May this year found the agreements had failed in all their aims, and it was accompanied by a letter from 30 environmental groups saying their extension would “would constitute an irrational decision on environmental, economic and social grounds”.
The briefing paper says in light of the new evidence showing that mature forests are important for koala habitats, the EPA needs to step in and regulate the logging of native forests.
“The expiry of the RFAs offers a circuit breaker and we need to take the opportunity to honestly appraise the impacts of logging and ask whether it’s worth it,” the paper concludes.
But on private land, the picture is at least as bad, the report finds.
Draft NSW legislation, set to be introduced to parliament this month, will significantly weaken controls around clearing of native vegetation on private land. It will allow farmers to clear native vegetation without approval in many cases, and give others access to “offsets” so that they can clear their land, and make up for it by supporting conservation efforts elsewhere.
According to WWF, just one of the changes in the sweeping reforms could result in 2.2 million hectares of koala habitat being cleared. 
The NSW government said the WWF analysis was “alarmist”, arguing local government laws prohibit the clearing of koala habitat. But the National Parks Association said that was the intention of the laws, whereby koala habitat is mapped and classified as “core”, and then used to guide development.
But the report said in the 21 years since that law was introduced, only four plans protecting koala habitats have been approved.
“That means that core koala habitat is not identified or protected in the vast majority of local government areas in NSW and there no protection … is conferred,” the report said.
With the Regional Forest Agreements poised to be renewed, and NSW set to pass relaxed land clearing laws, the National Parks Association said NSW has a decision to make.
“This means that there is a choice that must be made: do we want to protect koalas, or do we want to allow logging and land-clearing to drive them to extinction?”
Koalas 'under siege' from policy changes set to destroy habitat, report finds Koalas 'under siege' from policy changes set to destroy habitat, report finds Reviewed by Usa Tv on November 07, 2016 Rating: 5

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.