Mick Harrington, Executive Officer of Forest and Wood Communities Australia (FWCA) says the battle between unhinged and ill-informed false conservation and responsible forestry has reached a critical juncture, with recent events exposing many group’s attempts to undermine an industry that plays a vital role in the economic and ecological balance of New South Wales. Source: Timberbiz
He says the focal point in their campaign is the alleged impact of timber operations on wildlife, notably the Greater Glider. However, recent revelations challenge their narrative.
After the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) received a complaint from the community it investigated an area of Tallaganda State Forest and issued a 40-day order to halt harvesting and haulage operations in place in parts of the forest.
Via an anonymous source, FWCA understands an autopsy conducted on the deceased Greater Glider found approximately 50m outside the harvest area revealed it had been dead for only two weeks, contradicting claims of an immediate link to logging activities.
No operations had occurred in the region for six months, raising questions about the integrity of the accusations. It remains strongly possible perhaps that the individual glider in question died of unknown causes or fell prey to a Powerful Owl or Goanna – two common predator species of the Greater Glider.
Despite the doubts surrounding the legitimacy of the deceased Glider, the NSW EPA has increased requirements for protecting potential habitat trees with NSW EPA CEO Tony Chappel fully supportive of the new requirements.
“This ensures the critical habitats of some of our most endangered and much-loved native animals are protected,” he said.
“We have reviewed extensive research, sought expert views and believe this change strikes the right balance, resulting in significant ecological and regulatory improvement to the current arrangements.”
The Greater Glider has a home range of up to three hectares and uses up to 18 hollow bearing trees for shelter in that range.
When speaking to Forest Scientist and FWCA director Steve Dobbyns, he gave clarity to the issue.
“Tree hollows capable of housing a Greater Glider are usually quite obvious from the ground and the EPA’s decision creates the requirement for additional hollow bearing trees to be retained in the areas in which they would most likely occur.
“There is no removal of protection for gliders, rather an enhancement of these protections – alongside a recognition that conservation is about the species as a whole, at the landscape level, not at the individual level”.
Mr Harrington says that data illustrates the sustainable nature of current timber harvesting levels. No mammal species in Australian history has become extinct due to forestry operations. The careful management of timber resources, coupled with evolving conservation practices, has allowed timber harvesting and our ecosystems to coexist harmoniously.
He states that this fact challenges the extreme views of these dishonest organizations that use sweeping generalizations in their attempt to destroy the livelihoods of thousands of hard-working families around the state with no improvements to the environment of New South Wales.
The statistical realities and the exhaustive regulations present in our timber harvesting sector present a compelling case for the industry’s responsible practices.