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National outrage at koala carnage

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 July 2013 06:44

Koalas face carnage as loggers harvest timber plantations

Although the logging industry has claimed contractors were not deliberately hurting koalas,  it is understood in some circumstances koalas are being knocked from trees, squashed and caught up in mechanical shredding machinery.

Where are the koala / wildlife spotters to check that each and every tree that is to harvested does not have a rsident koala? Are there no protocols to ensure safety of all wildlife? 

koala-carnage-outrageIt is understood when the sprawling bluegum estates were planted around 15 to 20 years ago, there was little knowledge the hardwood plantations would become a significant refuge and a new food source for koalas.

However when you have a plantation of known koala habitat trees then surely it must signal strong possibility that koalas would move in to enjoy young green leaves? Koalas do not eat all gums. In fact of over 700 species of eucalypts koalas eat less than 20 species of gums!

According to a national academic, the issue is also now becoming a global issue given koalas are an "international icon". Koala expert Dr Stephen Phillips, who is a member of the Federal Government's Koala Abundance Working Group, said the emerging situation was "unfortunate" given the plantation estates were the way of the future and important economically for regional communities.

"They have a right to harvest, I certainly wouldn't like to see that change, that would be ridiculous," Dr Phillips said.

As with all of our industry rights, they must adapt to changing conditions. All timber plantations must be grown and harvested sustainably - that means not only in the fastest manner for greatest profit but with regard for all uses and users of the forest. 

We thank the whistleblowers for alerting us to the blatent disregard the industry has shown for our native wildlife and exposing the horrendous animal cruelty to the iconic koala and other wildlife in the plantations. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ABC ,Broadcast: 22/07/2013 with Reporter: Greg Hoy contains some graphic images and sounds of distressed koala. Watch here http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2013/s3808542.htm. Transcript is also available of the interview.

Across the centre and south-west of Victoria and in South Australia, we, ABC, visited many volunteer animal refuges struggling without help from industry or government to cope with casualties.

TRACEY WILSON: Broken limbs, impact wounds, broken backs, severed arm. Dead mothers with joeys that are still alive, trying to survive. I had one 500 gram joey, about this big (demonstrates size with hands) that had two healed broken arms. And so we can only assume from that that the mother had been dropped previous to this incident and she had no obvious breaks, but her intestines were just pulp.

Koala carers have rescued and saved many - only to be released - as required - back in close proximity of plantation. 

The cost of care and rehabilitation for rescued koalas is carried by volunteer not for profit groups.

Why shouldn't industry pay?

JILL ROWLEY: I am aware that in that particular location there was 21 koalas killed. 14 of those I actually personally had to euthanize. On a recent plantation, we got 28 out and that includes some of them were dead and some of them were alive. There was an original estimate from one of the workers there that were probably over 50 in that plantation. We're not sure what's happened to them.

SHANNON MCKAY, WILDLIFE VOLUNTEER, WARRNAMBOOL: I think 24 animals may have come in from this plantation and it was a fairly small one. So looking at the hectares of plantation in Western Victoria and across into South Australia, I think we're facing a crisis with these guys.

TRACEY WILSON: It's a huge issue. That's why Australians should care. There's gonna be a lotta koalas killed.

No-one from industry would be interviewed for this program, leaving that to the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industry.

DEPI said they provide the overall - overarching guidelines about how animals or koalas are suppposed to be handled but no checks are done, leaving it to industry. This is another examlpe of the many where compliance issues are only followed up when a citizen makes a complaint.

Now this is out in the open all of us need to be contacting our politicians to ask for their position on this - and similar - and demand that better protocols are developed and industry adheres to them. Unless WE MAKE A NOISE nothing will change - especially in a climate of wanting to reduce green tape  / or red tape.

Another ABC 7.30 report tells of the failure of timber plantations http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2013/s3803638.htm...

GREG HOY: With promoters spruiking sky-high returns helped by financial advisors paid secret commissions, 61,000 investors who were called growers were lured into such schemes. The promoters got rich and the trees spread like a virus across the country.

SHANE FOSTER: Trees would be getting planted towards the end of the financial year and knew full well that those seedlings wouldn't survive, but if they didn't put them in the ground before the end of the financial year, they wouldn't be able to obtain the tax breaks. 

DAVID MARSHALL, AGRIBUSINESS ANALYST: It was greed and it was naivety driven by totally unscrupulous people....

Unless the Federal Government actually learns something from it, nothing's been gained. 



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