Bulldozer contractors have been ordered to immediately stop work after a grim discovery near a forest in the far south of NSW.
On Tuesday, the body of an endangered greater glider was documented just 50 metres from where state government-owned company Forestry Corporation (FCNSW) was felling trees inside Tallaganda State Forest.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) order is in place for 40 days but it could be extended as investigations continue. The authority’s acting director of operations Steve Orr called the discovery of the body “extremely concerning”, adding he is “not confident” FCNSW has identified all of the greater gliders’ dens.
“Den trees are critical for the food, shelter and movement of gliders and FCNSW is required to protect them and implement 50 metre exclusion zones around identified den trees,” he said. “While community reports suggest around 400 Southern Greater Gliders may be living in the Tallaganda State Forest, FCNSW has identified only one den tree.”
FCNSW has been contacted for comment.
NSW under increasing pressure to end native forest logging
After the stop work was ordered international conservation group Worldwide Fund for Wildlife (WWF) congratulated the EPA and environment minister Penny Sharpe for taking action.
WWF-Australia’s Rachel Lowry said while she was “deeply upset” the glider was found dead, she wasn’t surprised. “WWF’s conservation scientists warned the government agency responsible for this destruction of the reckless impact this logging would have on greater gliders,” she said.
Her concerns were echoed by Nature Conservation Council NSW which called logging in Tallaganda both “appalling and unnecessary”.
“Our research shows that logging is planned in critical glider habitat right across the south coast,” its acting CEO Dr Brad Smith said.
“Logging should never have been permitted in a stronghold of greater glider habitat," he added. “The fact that over half the trees logged on the South Coast are woodchipped for export makes the death of these gliders even harder to take.”
Minister Sharpe is under pressure to follow the lead of Victoria and Western Australia who are joining South Australia by outlawing the logging of native forests. Critics note the native forestry industry is unprofitable and they argue it puts the state's dwindling native species populations at further risk.
Last week, FCNSW voluntarily pulled its vehicles from Newry State Forest on the Mid North Coast after a sustained campaign from Indigenous elders who had been blocked from visiting their sacred sites while the company bulldozed the surrounding area.
There are also ongoing concerns the Minns Labor Government’s proposed Great Koala National Park in the Coffs Harbour region is being compromised by ongoing logging of habitat.
In May, FCNSW told Yahoo it only selectively harvests timber in forests. “Trees are retained right across the harvested area to provide feed and shelter for these species,” a spokesperson said.
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