LETTER: Hiding the truth 

Does the unnamed “Forests NSW spokesperson” quoted in your “Demolition plan” story (BDN, 27/7) really think that your readers are fools?

Surely an honest spokesperson would have checked with the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change before claiming that “no records of koalas have been detected in the area planned for harvesting”.

This unnamed spokesperson talks about the koala surveys conducted in accordance with threatened species provisions under the IFOA yet surveys under this transect system have only detected one koala pellet since the RFAs were signed in the late 1990s, despite Forests NSW having spent what must be close to $1million on them by now.

He or she goes on to say that best practice grid-based survey techniques (RGB-SAT) were also used in these compartments, so why was the koala evidence found recently not detected using this system?

Was a 1km base used? This frequency is great for estimating koala numbers where they are plentiful, but hopeless where their numbers are scarce unless one would rather not find any evidence of them.

If “the principle purpose of the logging at Tanja is to supply sawlogs (1200 cubic metres)…to Blue Ridge Hardwoods sawmill in Eden”, why will 6000 tonnes of the trees harvested be sent to Nippon Paper’s South East Fibre Exports to be woodchipped?

In an industry where 90-95 per cent of the harvest is unnecessary “waste”, the other 5-10 per cent sent to sawmills is no longer the primary purpose of the business.

Our government tells us that woodchips “are also produced as a by-product from thinning production forests, timber harvesting and saw-milling”, but they are quite obviously no longer a by-product of timber harvesting.

These forests at Tanja have been selectively logged for sawlogs in the past and only a very small number of koalas have survived these operations.

Environment Minister Robyn Parker may believe that logging protects koalas, but the integrated operations proposed for these compartments will undoubtedly ensure their extinction.

Given that $2.8million was recently allocated from the Biodiversity Fund towards returning koalas to the Bega Valley, plus another $1.9million for Forests NSW to protect koala habitat, is it sensible to destroy the known habitat of the only one detected so far in the Bega River catchment?

From my experience, a spokesperson for any large organisation is “unnamed” either when they are leaking the truth or trying to hide the truth. I’m sure that most of your readers can recognise the difference.

Seán Burke, Central Tilba


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