Article is the second in a series written by Kyogle Environment Group
Kyogle Local Government Area (LGA) is home to one of the largest private native forestry estates in New South Wales, covering 160,000 hectares of land, half the LGA. At the heart of the regulation governing private forestry is the commitment to Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management (ESFM), designed to protect the rich biodiversity and ecosystems under the Local Land Service Act.
Private Native Forestry (PNF) refers to the practice of harvesting and managing native forests on private land, as opposed to public State Forests, and is subject to regulations and guidelines aimed at ensuring the so-called “sustainable management of native forests” to maintain ecosystem health, protection of biodiversity & managing the impact on water resources.
PNF is undertaken predominately in sclerophyll forests which provide habitat for a wide range of native fauna, including ground and arboreal marsupials, bats, reptiles and many species of birds.
Special areas such as rainforests, wetlands, heathlands, and old growth forests are identified as exclusion zones where logging is strictly prohibited under the PNF Code. However, outside these areas, landowners can apply for a desktop approval from the Local Land Service (LLS) for their forestry plans. Unfortunately, the existing regulations fall short in one crucial aspect: there is no requirement for on-ground assessments or surveys to determine the boundaries of threatened ecological communities.
The vast majority of private lands have no documented records of threatened species and there is no obligation for landowners to investigate or consider the potential impact on local wildlife before felling a tree. In practice, while the Private Native Forestry (PNF) code contains numerous provisions aimed at protecting our unique wildlife, its application in the field often proves ineffective. The minimum standards outlined in the PNF Code are deemed too minimal to achieve true Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management.
Some of the critically endangered species that occur within the Kyogle LGA include: Regent Honeyeater, Glossy Black Cockatoo, Koala, Spotted tail Quoll and the Greater Glider.
Kyogle Council has committed to working with State and Federal governments to identify areas of high biodiversity and environmental value and is in the process of developing a consultancy brief for Biodiversity Assessment and mapping of areas of high environmental value. However, this takes time and time is running out for our critically endangered species.
Fortunately, a solution is emerging that empowers landowners to contribute to the preservation of forest habitat. Citizen science initiatives, such as identifying threatened species and adding data to the Atlas of Living Australia database, have gained prominence in recent years. By participating in these projects, landowners can strengthen biodiversity records across the landscape, enhancing the knowledge about local ecosystems.
The added data can help make private logging more accountable, shedding light on the presence of threatened species and the impact of forestry activities on the environment. It provides an opportunity for landowners to take a proactive role in safeguarding the rich biodiversity of Kyogle LGA and ensuring that private native forestry aligns more closely with the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management
Citizen science offers a promising path forward, where landowners can actively engage in conserving the region’s unique wildlife and ecosystems. By strengthening biodiversity records, Kyogle LGA can strive for a more balanced and sustainable approach to private native forestry.
This article first appeared in the November edition of the Nimbin Good Times and is reproduced here in full with permission.