Koala trail signs halt loggers
FORESTS NSW says it has suspended logging in the Royal Camp State Forest, south-west of Casino, following concerns they may be harvesting in koala "high-use" areas.
A weekend inspection of logging areas by the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) and a consultant wildlife expert, found logging was being done in an area identified by NEFA as heavily used by koalas.
David Milledge, of Landmark Ecological Services at Broken Head, visited the site with NEFA and found evidence of 50 or more scats (faecal pellets) beneath some trees, a sign of a koala population. However, he said it appeared Forests NSW had made no attempt to identify "high use" trees.
"The real evidence that Forests NSW have done their work would be a 'K' marked on trees in the areas," Mr Milledge said.
"This would show they have identified the koala feed trees, but as far as we could see, there were no marked trees."
Forests NSW was contacted by NEFA and the Environment Protection Authority and stopped harvesting yesterday.
"We had marked one area as being a koala 'high-use' area and that was excluded from harvesting," Forests NSW north east planning manager Dean Kearney said. "But as a precautionary measure we have suspended logging in the forest and we will be sending out two ecologists and the harvesting foreman to survey the area again."
Scats of different sizes have been found in the area "indicating that there are koalas and their young living here," Dailan Pugh of NEFA said.
He said it was likely koalas were breeding in the area.
A spokeswoman for the Environment Protection Authority said the matter was being treated seriously.
"We already have people on the ground to ascertain if there are koalas living in the area," she said. "We're undertaking an independent assessment and have asked Forests NSW to produce all documentation related to their pre-harvest assessment of the area."