Birds killing local forests say greenies

A REPORT indicates thousands of hectares of the Northern Rivers Border Ranges ancient forests are slowly dying from a combination of logging, opportunistic bell miner birds and their prey.

The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) national report uses Border Ranges forests as an example and says the birds are destroying trees thanks to "logging operations that create low dense understoreys of lantana, open mudstones and sparse overstoreys".

This encourages farming by the birds of tiny sap-sucking insects called psyllids, which has created an abundance of both species and led to the continued destruction of trees.

NEFA say they conducted an audit that found the "Forestry Corporation of NSW is targeting affected forests for increased logging in the full knowledge that they are killing the forest".

The alliance has called on the Minister for the Environment Rob Stokes to put a stop to continued logging in affected forests.

Report author Dailan Pugh explained how bell miner-associated dieback (BMAD) occurs: "The altered habitat favours bell miners who aggressively mob and chase away most other birds and allow populations of sap-sucking psyllids to thrive and literally suck the life out of vast swathes of eucalypt forests.

"This dieback has affected over 100,000ha of NSW forests. Millions of hectares of NSW's native forests are considered susceptible.

"The report focuses on examples from the Border Ranges where some 30,000ha of native forest have already been affected by BMAD. Rehabilitation costs are already estimated at some $30 million and growing as the Forestry Corporation continues to degrade the forest."

The Forestry Corporation denied any wrongdoing and noted scientific opinion on BMAD differs considerably."



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