South East Timber Association urges caution over floral reserves

RELATED CONTENT: Flora reserves announced

HISTORIC TIMBER: An historic timber photo from the SETA website.

HISTORIC TIMBER: An historic timber photo from the SETA website.

The South East Timber Association (SETA) says its members were “surprised and disappointed” by the NSW Government announcement of four new flora reserves covering all the remaining state forests between the Bega and Bermagui Rivers.

“While the activist movement are pleased with the announcement, generally, they seem to be motivated by a desire to convert all state forests to national parks,” a SETA spokesman said.

“Their rationale seems to be that this land tenure change will ensure the long term protection of biodiversity associated with native forests.

“SETA members understand that long term conservation is not that simple and active management of native forests, on all tenures, is needed to ensure we do not lose any more species.

“SETA members do not wish this announcement to result in a similar outcome to the activist campaigns of the 1990s, that saw the then icon Tantawangalo State Forest koala population, protected from logging by dedication of the South East National Park.”  

SETA said “recent intensive surveys show that a population at Tantawangalo/Yurammie is now very low and possibly extinct”.

“There are numerous examples across NSW where koalas living in state forests have not been ‘saved’ when the forest has been transferred to national park tenure,” the spokesman said.  

“It is disappointing to note that as the area of native forest protected in parks and reserves has increased, the koala numbers in NSW have continued to decline.

SETA supplied the table below, which it said showed koala activity in state forests, which are the areas to be dedicated as flora reserves, as well as surrounding national parks.

Number of sites assessed and types of tenure. Source SETA

Number of sites assessed and types of tenure. Source SETA

“SETA members are confused,” the spokesman said.

“If koala protection is the real objective of the announcement, why was it necessary to create the four flora reserves, when koalas seem to be more plentiful in state forests than in the adjoining national parks?  

“SETA will be taking great interest in what changes will be made to current reserve management systems to ensure long term survival of koalas on the NSW south coast.” 

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