FORESTRY CORP PULLS OUT OF TALLAGANDA … FOR NOW
The fight to save this greater glider stronghold will continue
Wilderness Australia, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia and South East Forest Rescue have claimed victory after Forestry Corp quietly pulled out of logging compartments in Tallaganda Sate Forest that were the subject of a Stop Work Order issued by the NSW Environment Protection Authority.
The EPA Stop Work Order on seven compartments was due to expire on Monday 29 January. Without making an announcement, Forestry Corp changed the status of these compartments on itsto “operations complete”.
This does not impact the EPA’s investigation of Forestry Corp’s activities in Tallaganda which are ongoing and may result in a prosecution.
“This is a win for the thousands of people who have expressed outrage at the destruction of prime greater glider habitat in Tallaganda. Forestry Corp already has others sections mapped for potential logging. This can’t be allowed to happen. The greater gliders that remain in Tallaganda must be protected. This is the first step to ending logging in Tallaganda entirely and permanently protecting greater glider habitat,” said Dr Kita Ashman, Threatened Species & Climate Adaptation Ecologist, WWF Australia.
“Forestry Corp should give a guarantee that it will permanently cease operations in Tallaganda. Logging one of the last strongholds of the endangered greater glider was an international disgrace. Hollow bearing trees were bulldozed, and greater gliders certainly killed, largely to make paper. This was done by a native forest logging business that runs at a loss and is subsidized by taxpayers,” said Wilderness Australia Operations Manager Andrew Wong.
“The huge sections of damaged forest in Tallaganda should be allowed to recover. A process that could take more than a century. Over the last five months the revelations about Forestry Corp’s conduct in Tallaganda have been deeply disturbing. We won’t rest until Forestry Corp is out of this precious forest for good,” said South East Forest Rescue Coordinator Scott Daines.
Following complaints, the EPA inspected Tallaganda on 30 August, found a dead greater glider near logging operations, and issued a 40-day Stop Work Order verbally the same day and in writing on 31 August 2023. It was amended on 6 September 2023 and extended on 4 October 2023, on 10 November 2023 and again on 20 December 2023.
Forestry Corp had been required to identify greater glider den trees, and protect each one with a 50 metre exclusion zone, before logging commenced. But Forestry Corp had only identified one den tree and the EPA said it was not confident habitat surveys had been adequately conducted.
Wilderness Australia, WWF-Australia, and SEFR then conducted their own surveys and found 27 greater glider den trees in just eight hectares.
Twenty of those den trees had logging within 50 metres. Based on den tree density, it was estimated at least 1,215 den trees had likely been logged or had had logging inside their 50 metre exclusion zones.
In a joint report the three groups described Forestry Corp’s inadequate search for greater glider homes an “astonishing failure”.
The EPA also conducted surveys and recorded 89 greater gliders and 20 den trees in areas subject to the Stop Work Order, and earmarked for harvesting or planned harvesting operations.
Questioned by AAP, Forestry Corp admitted that the search for greater glider den trees, a nocturnal species, was conducted during the day.
Procedures state that to identify a den tree a greater glider must be seen entering or leaving a hollow. There is little chance of seeing this during the day when the species sleeps.
The EPA is expected to put more comprehensive survey guidelines in place including that searches for greater glider den trees must be conducted at night.