6 Oct 2023
THE IMAGES THAT EXPOSE FORESTRY CORP OF NSW
Three conservation groups have revealed that Forestry Corporation of New South Wales failed to protect likely thousands of greater glider den trees when it logged Tallaganda State Forest – despite a requirement that it must save every tree inhabited by the endangered species.
Forestry Corp sparked outrage when it extensively logged Tallaganda State Forest. An area that largely escaped the 2019-20 fires and is one of Australia’s last greater glider strongholds.
The state-owned enterprise is required to do pre-harvest habitat surveys, identify and record greater glider den trees and protect each one with a 50-metre exclusion zone. Den trees are critical to the survival of greater gliders, a species that has declined by up to 80% in some areas.
Forestry Corp has active logging operations across 1,876.4 hectares in Tallaganda State Forest but identified only one den tree.
In three-and-a-half hours, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia, Wilderness Australia, and South East Forest Rescue surveyed just three hectares and found 17 greater glider den trees.
They have provided a report detailing these findings to the NSW Environment Protection Authority and the office of Environment Minister Penny Sharpe.
Meantime, the NSW Environment Protection Authority today announced it had recorded 20 den trees and has extended a stop work order on the logging operation until 13 November 2023.
The survey results by conservation groups indicate there would have been about 10,000 greater glider den trees present before logging began. Thousands have likely already been destroyed. Thousands more den trees still standing will be cut down if the remaining logging that is planned goes ahead.
A team from South East Forest Rescue, including Scott ‘Sooty’ Daines, surveyed an area in compartment 2451A on 23 September and observed greater gliders emerging from two den trees.
WWF-Australia’s Threatened Species & Climate Adaptation Ecologist, Dr Kita Ashman, and Andrew Wong, an ecologist and Wilderness Australia's Operations Manager, conducted spotlighting surveys on 25, 26 and 27 September and identified a further 15 den trees, observing greater gliders emerging from or entering tree hollows within compartments 2447A, 2448A, 2449A, 2450A and 2451A.
“Finding 17 den trees in a short space of time exposes a massive failure by Forestry Corp. How can the mass destruction of greater glider habitat continue when this species is on such a downward trajectory? It beggars belief. Our surveys highlight that we can have zero confidence in Forestry Corp to identify and protect crucial threatened species habitat. It shows we need stronger nature laws and urgent reforms to remove exemptions such as Regional Forestry Agreements that allow native forest logging to continue unchecked,” Dr Kita Ashman said.
Andrew Wong said: “Forestry Corp clearly understands the critical significance of this population of a federally endangered species. Yet they deliberately downplayed the presence of greater glider den trees to get away with logging their habitat. The Tallaganda population is extremely important but it could be wiped out if habitat destruction continues. NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe is a strong advocate for endangered species, and yet this public agency is undercutting her government’s environmental policy in Tallaganda State Forest right now. We don’t believe that Forestry Corp can or should be trusted with managing the fate of endangered species during logging operations. We ask the Minns government to swiftly bring about the permanent protection of all of Tallaganda State Forest, along with all other critical habitat required to prevent the extinction of the iconic greater glider.”
South East Forest Rescue coordinator Scott ‘Sooty’ Daines said: "The Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (CIFOA) gutted the pre logging survey requirements and adopted a landscape approach to protect species by retaining only 8 hollow-bearing trees per hectare. Our surveys have shown how this approach has totally failed species like the greater glider. The population of greater gliders in Tallaganda is too important to gamble on the hope that these inadequate CIFOA prescriptions will protect them, the whole of Tallaganda needs to be made a national park to protect this iconic species."
The three conservation groups have requested permanent protection of Tallaganda State Forest. To regenerate nature by 2030, and ensure no future extinctions, the habitat of threatened species must be protected.