(Pic: Big spotty, South Brooman State Forest, NCC)
Canberrans are passionate about the south coast of NSW – the forests and the beaches have a special place in our hearts.
The south coast forests are truly amazing, featuring a diverse combination of eucalypt forests dominated by towering gums, woodlands, coastal shrub and rainforest. Critically, they also provide habitat for a wide array of incredible and threatened species like the Yellow-Bellied Glider and Swift Parrot. On the forest floor, you find wombats, bandicoots and spotted-tailed quolls. Some patches contain giant, old trees, like big spotty (pictured below). Unbelievably, most of the forest on the south coast is still not safe from the threat from logging.
The NSW South Coast was scorched during the Black Summer bushfires. It was one of the hardest hit regions in the state, with 80% of bushland burnt in the Shoalhaven LGA and 65% in the Eurobodalla and Bega Valley LGAs. The intensity of the burn in this region also set it aside from other parts of the state, as it experienced far higher rates of crown burn.
Public native forest logging in NSW is a major driver of deforestation pushing countless species further towards extinction. The state-owned Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) is responsible for all public native forest logging. FCNSW has recently resumed logging in South Coast native forests even though following the Black Summer bushfires, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) restricted logging on the South Coast to give the fragile burnt forests and wildlife a chance to recover. The EPA said that recovery could take over 100 years in some forests, so that tree hollows can form and threatened species populations can recover.
Pockets of unburnt and lightly burnt forest that are also threatened with logging have become critical refuges for the region’s stunning and diverse wildlife. Experts claim that following large bushfires, refuges for surviving animals are critical as they provide food and habitat immediately post-fire, and then allow them to grow their populations outwards as surrounding bush recovers. These areas are now included as targets of FCNSW operations on the South Coast.
Logging is slated for 78 compartments on the south coast between Nowra and the Victorian border. Areas of key concern include the state forests around Batemans Bay, at Mogo and Bolaro. Mogo Compartment 180A, which is currently being logged, and Mogo compartment 146A (with logging predicted to start here soon) have incredible significance to the critically endangered swift parrot which visits these forests each year on their annual migration from Tasmania to the south east forests. Compartment 146A has recorded 180 swift parrots, which is more than half the estimated number of individuals left in this entire species!!
Sign up to our newsletter to stay on top of what’s next, or you can find out more by watching our Environment Exchange event featuring Professor David Lindenmayer (ANU), Brad Smith (NSW Nature Conservation Council), Joslyn van der Moolen (Canberra Forest Alliance) and Harriett Swift (South East Regional Conservation Alliance).
Or you could consider joining local forest group Canberra Forest Alliance, or perhaps the Coastwatchers Association or the South East Regional Conservation Alliance. In the near future, there will be an opportunity to engage in the upcoming NSW Parliament upper house inquiry into the “Long term sustainability and future of the timber and forest products industry”. Hearings will be held on the south coast later this year.
With all that Canberrans love about the south coast, this year is a good one to think about how we can positively shape the future of the region’s forests.