Australians for Animals (Koala Crisis) September 2020 Newsletter

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Australians forAnimals PROTECT • NURTURE • RESTORE Reg. Charity No. CFN12644

PO Box 414, Brunswick Heads 2483 Australia Tel: 61 2 6680 3674 Fax: 61 2 6680 3612 Email:

KOALAS SURVIVAL - ON THE LINE! “The Forestry Corpora on is targe ng every remaining koala hot spot on the mid north and north coast forests. One a er another. Koalas are being driven to ex nc on by the NSW government.”

These are the words of a wellknown ecologist who has fought relessly to stop the dreadful destruc on of forests which survived the catastrophic bushfires. Cri cally important forests. The logging is happening today. It's been happening every day since the bushfires ended. Logging con nued during the bushfires. What we're witnessing is the deliberate destruc on of NSW coastal forests. En re ecosystems are being eradicated. It's a situa on almost beyond belief. A few we e ks a go, a re p o r t commissioned by WWF, researched by scien sts from three universi es, es mated that more than 3 billion animals had died or subsequently starved to death as a result of the catastrophic bushfires. Not one billion as previously es mated but 3 billion! To make ma ers worse, there are NO legal provisions which allow any legal ac on by the public interest to stop the slaughter in the forests.

State and Commonwealth governments have ed up the forests in Regional Forest Agreements which last for 20 years. These agreements mean that all logging, all forest industries in all states are exempt from the provisions of the Federal Environmental Protec on & Biodiversity Act which provides for environmental impact statements and condi ons of approval when threatened, endangered species are involved. In NSW, the Forestry Corpora on is out of control. Compliance is non existent. Any concern for wildlife is non -existent. Yet the NSW Minister for Environment, Ma Kean, was reported recently saying he wanted 20,000 koalas by 2050. Who is he kidding? His government is wiping them out. Add to this shocking situa on, massive urbanisa on planned in southwest Sydney will see a total wipe out of the only chlamydia free koala popula on remaining in the

state. As one dedicated ac vist from Campbelltown writes: “Six thousand hectares of bush and farm land will be destroyed, habitat and wildlife corridors lost and covered in dark rooved houses, high

rise and shops between Wilton and Campbelltown. This is home to the last Chlamydia f r e e a n d ex p a n d i n g ko a l a popula on le along with a Noahs ark of na ve animals and birds.”

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A BIG WORKLOAD AFA would love to send out posi ve newsle ers. This year has been a nightmare and there's s ll months to go. The charity has been out of touch for a month or two because of the workload which is mountain high. Unfortunately, with the almost 100% focus on Covid 19, wildlife and the ongoing destruc on of the environment is way down the bo om of any government priori es. In fact, the pandemic is being used as a cover for the most appalling wipe out of koalas and all forest dependent wildlife. At a me when we really need to glare o f p u b l i c a e n o n , t h e re a l environmental crises are reduced to exposure on social media. A media which is not always reliable. The conspiracy theories generated are almost as bad as the pandemic. So too are the fake fundraising efforts by greedy scammers. Over the last couple of months, AFA has been working relessly with the Indigenous Jus ce Advocacy Network (IJAN) on several issues which have not received the real a en on of either the mainstream media or many major conserva on groups. Principally, we're focused on the legal shut-out.

LET'S START WITH NAMBUCCA FOREST A beau ful mid north coast forest which, by some miracle, was le virtually untouched by bushfires. Koalas, gliders, possums, birds, all managing to find food and shelter. The forest is also priceless in its Aboriginal heritage with many sacred sites. A FA a n d o u r c o l l e a g u e , t h e Indigenous Jus ce Advocacy Centre have worked together on many campaigns over the last 30 plus years. Our Co-ordinator and Al Oshlack, Founder of the Centre are both legally experienced. Al has run many lawsuits against governments and won an awesome number. He's one of the few bush lawyers l e i n t h e co u nt r y. O u r C o ordinator has run lawsuits in Australia and the US, and in the early years of the charity, shared an office with the Environmental Defenders in Sydney. At that me, its head lawyer was Brian Preston, now Chief Judge of the Land & Environment Court. He was a mentor in those early days for the charity.

LEGAL KNOTS AND MAZES Any legal effort to try and stop Forestry Corpora on logging this cri cally important forest issue presented a hornet's nest of legal difficul es. Why? Because the NSW government has drawn up legisla on under the Forestry Act which denies any rights for anyone to take legal ac on over breaches of approval, non compliance, destroying indigenous s i te s , k i l l i n g t h re ate n e d a n d endangered wildlife. In other words, the Forestry Corpora on can do what it likes in NSW. At the federal level, listed species like the koala and many other cri cally important forest species are

completely disregarded as the logging of State forests is covered by the Federal Regional Forest Agreements which allow this exemp on. Major development projects which impact koalas and EPBC listed species a re s u p p o s e d to “ refe r ” t h e developments to the Federal Department of the Environment. A FA s a y s s u p p o s e d b e c a u s e developers are allowed to self refer. But those that do, and gain approval are obliged to undertaken environmental impact assessments and abide by condi ons of approval. The Federal Environment Minister can also reject applica ons. There's no requirement to refer the logging to the Federal Government. Instead our forest wildlife is le defenceless.

DEFENSELESS FORESTS The forestry industry has a complete free for all. This is a dire situa on. No legal challenges, no legal rights. It's a crisis almost beyond belief. Think about the communi es figh ng all over the country trying to save wildlife surviving the fires. People everywhere are working relessly to protect koalas, gliders, birds, trees, rivers, fish, frogs, bats, sen ent beings. As IJAN says: “What's happening is massive clearing of forests in many way a humanitarian crisis having significant impacts on water quality and amount of waters that can get to rivers and creeks. The next drought will be like we've never experienced before with forests gone, which means rain will also disappear.” Given the loss of over 3 billion animals – described as one of the worst global environmental disasters, the governments of Australia have ignored the environment; ignored the losses and ploughed ahead with efforts to ensure the public has no rights to defend defenceless wildlife.

This is beyond a scandal. These are grounds for governments to be sacked. Our childrens' future, the future survival of non-humans has been compromised by the governments in charge. So the work that has consumed by AFA and IJAN for weeks and weeks has been researching every legal possibility to allow public rights. Plus discussions and advice from experienced lawyers. In fact, when IJAN threatened the Forestry Corpora on on behalf the Na ve Title holders of the forest with legal ac on because of a failure to consult with the Aboriginal elders, Forestry Corpora on stopped work. Forestry Corpora on pulled out of Nambucca Forest and any legal challenge was discon nued. Unfortunately, the Corpora on then moved into Wild Ca le Creek Forest and other major remaining forests

Image source: h ps://twi

which are the headwaters for coastal towns, forests which gave surviving wildlife a future… more logging, more protests. But it was also clear that the likelihood of a legal challenge against the Corpora on was going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible. So AFA called up some of the best academic legal experts in the country as our groups had found a poten al precedent in a recent High Court judgement. The experts told us our ta s k wo u l d b e ve r y d i ffi c u l t , poten ally impossible but to keep

going as the issue is so important. AFA can't go into the details in a newsle er. Not only do we not want to broadcast any strategy but unless very dedicated, most of you would probably fall asleep. We're dealing with state and federal laws, High Court precedents, regula ons, and case law. A gigan c task for grass roots groups with very limited funds. Unless we can get the legal advice pro bono ( free), the level of exper se we need is usually extremely expensive and beyond our means.


NOW THE GOVERNMENT IS BURNING FOREST “BIOMASS” FOR ELECTRICITY Not only are NSW forests being logged but they're also being burned to generate “renewable energy”. Yes, AFA found the informa on hard to believe. Forest dependent wildlife struggling to survive in the remaining forests are being wiped out as the bulldozers clear fell trees to be woodchipped for the co-genera on power plants.

Stock image.

The new defini on of allowable resources that can be burned is “ na ve forest biomass” and “ wood waste”. The dic onary defini on of forest biomass is a TREE. Although the NSW government con nues to claim a prohibi on on burning na ve forest material, the government gets around the problem by exemp ons which allow saw mill

and forest “ waste” to be burned. In any event, it's very difficult to monitor what's happening as the only people who witness the destruc on are frightened. Local roads near eucalypt planta ons and forests are becoming a major safety risk with semi-trailers full of woodchips thundering along roads never built to create this kind of traffic. Three Sugar mills in NSW are now cogenera on plants, or power sta ons. In other words, the mills burn the


woodchips for electricity. Apparently, there's a shortage of sugar cane bagasse, the dry pulpy residue le a er the extrac on of juice. Drought and bushfires have taken their toll on bagasse so other sources are now up for grabs. And the nearest available source ? Trees. Another source of “wood waste” are the le overs from harves ng planta ons. Eucalypt planta ons are home to koalas and many other wildlife species. The destruc on of these planta ons happening now is heartbreaking because the trees are over 30 years old and are home to many animals. Wildlife refugees. According to the Australian Forest & Climate Alliance, a Media Release of 22nd July 2020 from the Clean Energy Council (CEC) announced a Memorandum of Understanding between CEC and Bioenergy Australia promo ng massive expansion of bioenergy that would inevitably involve many tens of millions of tonnes of forest biomass (up to a possible 54 million tonnes) which would place all Australian forests in peril.

THIS IS A SCORCHED EARTH POLICY. AFA's inves ga on is demonstra ng major interna onal investment is flowing into the companies licenced to use na ve forest biomass. Some is coming from interna onal super f u n d s , s o m e f ro m co r p o rate investment. A Bill before the Federal parliament spells out the government's policy. AFA's understanding is that the legisla on has not yet been passed, perhaps because there's been such a level of protest. The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2015 Part 4 states: Ÿ Part 4 amends the RET Regula ons to extend the current defini on of 'wood waste' to include na ve forest biomass as an eligible renewable energy source. The Bob Brown Founda on provides a defini on of “ wood waste.” “The defini on of 'waste' already used by the woodchip industry is any tree not suitable for saw-logging. This ranges from 30–75 per cent of the total volume, and in some instances up to 90 per cent, of the wood removed from a logged forest. “


ON THE PLUS SIDE NORTH LISMORE PLATEAU SUCCESS AFA con nues to support a wildlife shelter at Tenterfield with food for birds and joeys who are in need of milk. We have kept up supplies for many months and will con nue to ensure all needs are met. North Lismore Plateau legal fight ini ated by AFA's dear friend, Mickey Ryan, Chairman of the Bundjalung Elders Commi ee together with Al Oshlack of the Indigenous Jus ce Network won the legal ba le to stop the development. Against all odds. The development involved plans to create more than 430 residen al lots on the Plateau. Home to really significant biodiversity including cri cally endangered plants and animals and sacred indigenous sites. Land & Environment Court ruled the approval was invalid because no species impact was done. Mickey says he wept with joy a er

hearing the victory news. "I didn't think we had any chance to win it, it was like a David and Goliath fairytale come true and we knocked them for six," he said. "My old people told me a long me ago to protect this mountain with everything I had. "This whole mountain is sacred, it's a story from the Dreaming … you can see in the landscape from the air the sleeping lizard." AFA was able to help with funds and support ! We are so proud of these two ac vists who joined AFA in the campaign to try and protect koalas being wiped out by the Ballina Pacific Highway Upgrade.

From le , Mickey Ryan and Al Oshlack

KOALA CRISIS ON SOCIAL MEDIA Is really going well. Some weeks we have over 50,000 hits as many people rely on AFA's Koala Crisis social media efforts on Facebook and Twi er. In the last month, Koala Crisis has clocked up over 90.000 hits. Our Co-ordinator writes a regular blog highligh ng campaigns, ac ons, and informa on. For many people, it's the only place to get current, accurate news on koalas and their habitats, na ve forests! We've been able to use the page to provide connec ons.. We've

been able to provide campaign advise and referrals to relevant lawyers and scien sts. It's a great communica on vehicle. Please keep suppor ng AFA, we're doing the hard yards ! For the Animals, Sue Arnold & Friends.