Fight for Ferny Forest heats up with petition and protest

By Mitch Gaynor

A PETITION against the proposed logging of Ferny Forest has gained nearly 20,000 signatures with protesters planning to rally this fortnight against what they call the “environmental vandalism” of the area.

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) announced in December that logging of up to 50 per cent of the 129-hectare region, known as both Ferny Forest and Beerwah State Forest, would soon begin.

The announcement has created community anger with two key groups – Save Ferny Forest and Save Beerwah State Forest – arguing it would lead to irreparable damage and destruction of the forest and animals and introduce pests and disease.

Other groups are backing intervention including the Sunshine Coast Environmental Council, which described the forest as an “increasingly rare refuge in nature with its incredible conservation and habitat values for threatened species such as greater gliders, koalas, glossy black cockatoos and tusked frogs, and that was now under threat from imminent logging”.

Member for Caloundra, Jason Hunt, said he was opposed to the logging and had aired his concerns to Agricultural Minister Mark Furner.

“I’ve unambiguously said that I’m not in favour of the logging so they have my thoughts,” he said.

Bridgette Chilli Davis of the Chilli family, respected Traditional Owners of the area, has also urged an immediate stop to logging.

“This land is extremely important to the Kabi Kabi people… because it has habitat and is a wildlife corridor for many native animal species that are now not only vulnerable but endangered,” Bridgette wrote.

“This forest will contain song-lines, silcrete tools, scarred trees and protected trees.”

Target species include blackbutt, white stringybark, tallowwood, red mahogany, ironbark, flooded gum, turpentine and grey gum.

In a statement to GC&M News, a spokesperson for the DAF stated “in the case of Beerwah State Forest, no final decision has been made on harvest”.

The spokesperson said Ferny Forest had been identified as a site for selective native timber harvesting in 1874.

“In 1874, Beerwah State Forest was established as a reserve for state forest purposes, including selective native timber harvesting.”

Concerned resident Teena Chumbley said she feared that logging the area, which the state government deemed as core koala habitat, would not only introduce pests and disease, but decimate native animals.

Koalas were only last month reclassified by the federal government from vulnerable to endangered.

“This is basically managed extinction of the species,” Ms Chumbley said.

The DAF spokesperson said that the department had a process in place to identify and protect koalas.

“DAF has a comprehensive process in place to identify and protect koalas during any timber harvesting operations, including the use of koala spotters and koala detection dogs,” he said.

A protest is planned for March 4 from 4-6pm and will include live music from Human Trash Orchestra.

Main image: Protesters are urging the government to ban the logging