The social media alert was to the point – Save the masked owl. Save Corunna Forest. Bring earplugs.
“The Lone Drummer” was a force to be reckoned with on Friday morning outside Bega MP Andrew Constance’s office, belting out drum riffs for an hour at max volume.
A man of few words, a Lone Drummer offsider said he was “asking Andrew Constance to ‘hear this’”.
“He is doing this for Corunna – he wants to look after the masked owl,” they added.
Logging began in Corunna State Forest in late September, but conservation groups have been vocal in their opposition.
That protest dial was turned up a notch when reports came through a vulnerable masked owl had been sighted in the area.
As a result, opponents have called on Forestry Corporation to cease the current operation at Corruna.
Eurobodalla resident Elizabeth Walton said a masked owl was captured on a hidden camera at the site of current harvest operations in the early hours of September 29, 2018.
The images were uploaded to citizen science website Atlas of Life in the Coastal Wilderness with date stamp and coordinates.
“The community remains highly concerned about the extent of studies of the habitat at Corunna Forest, after a rare and highly protected masked owl was discovered at Corunna Forest this weekend,” Ms Walton told Fairfax Media.
“This makes three owls and a small raptor nest discovered by the community and reported to Forestry.
“The community has called for the EPA [Environment Protection Authority] to urgently intervene and allow for a thorough search to be done involving night cameras and audio recordings.”
A Forestry spokesperson said on Friday timber harvesting in Corunna State Forest is being conducted in accordance with NSW’s strict native forest regulations.
They also said that in more than 70 hours of on-ground searches, call playback surveys and remote camera deployment, no masked owl roost or nest had been located within the forest.
“In planning the operation, Forestry Corporation has put in place a number of exclusion zones to protect threatened species and other forest features and around half of the area will be left untouched from harvesting.
“The exclusion zones put in place are based on independent scientific evidence of what is needed to sustain species and ensure habitat is protected for the threatened species identified. These practices have been employed in state forests for a number of years as is evidenced in other forests which have been harvested and naturally regenerated like Bermagui. The forests do regrow and continue to provide habitat for wildlife.
“Masked owls have large home ranges of around 1000-2000 hectares, which means we have several levels of protection for them. These are landscape level protections to provide broad suitable habitat, protections put in place for nesting locations and protections for roosting sites.
“Conversely, species that have small home ranges, for example an eastern pygmy possum, have an exclusion zone applied for each animal observed.
“We have conducted over 70 hours of on-ground searches in Corunna State Forest for masked owl roosts and nests and a range of other threatened species and ecology features. We have also carried out spotlight transects, call playback surveys and deployed remote cameras in this forest. No owl roost or nest has been found.”
In an interview with Fairfax Media last month a spokesman said habitat trees, or those that had potential to become hollow, would be protected.
A protest termed Funeral for the Forest was held in Bega’s CBD and outside Mr Constance’s office last week.
The volume was then turned up to 11 with The Lone Drummer’s efforts on Friday morning, October 5.