Fury at logging of sensitive forest

By Greg Brown

THE Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) announcement that logging will start soon in the Beerwah State Forest between Ewen Maddock Dam and Steve Irwin Way at Glenview has stirred up a hornet’s nest of community outrage.

The news – reported in the December 7 edition of GC&M News (https://gcnews.com.au/logging-to-start-in-beerwah-state-forest) – comes after the local community fought a successful battle to save large areas of the adjoining environmentally sensitive forest from the bulldozer during planning for the Bruce Highway/Caloundra Road/Steve Irwin Way upgrade project.

Now the battle lines have been redrawn as the DAF rushes to clear high value hardwood trees from the forest before the area is locked up as a national park in 2024.

Two action groups have already been formed to garner community support and apply pressure to the authorities to change their plans and not log the 130ha remnant vegetation forest.

The two groups, Save Beerwah State Forest and Save Ferny Forest, have formed independently but share the same ultimate goal of stopping the area from being logged.

Other interested groups such as the Bushrangers Mountain Bike Club and the Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC) are also actively campaigning to save the forest.

The forest is home to threatened species such as koala, greater glider, glossy black cockatoo, giant barred frog, Coxen’s fig parrot, regent honeyeater, southern pink underwing moth and grey-headed flying fox.

The decision to log the forest comes on the eve of the International Union for Conservation of Nature adding another 124 animals to its list of species threatened with extinction, leaving people asking how many more species have to disappear before we start protecting the little that is left?

Wendy Merefield-Ward sums up the frustration of many on her Facebook post: “All of these beautiful and unique places will disappear if we don’t stand up for them. Gradually, piece by piece, they are nibbled away, they decline, until finally they are all gone.”

Environmental impacts are very much the core of the issue for many commentators.

Cathie Stephens writes that they “take the old trees, the same ones that animals and birds need for nests. They can’t wait another 30-100 years for the saplings to develop nest sites. And koalas need forests to survive, not what’s left after all the timber is taken out”.

“I thought this forest was protected. Why isn’t it national park?” Steve Bedford posted.

In fact, the area has been flagged by the Queensland Government to become a national park in 2024.

In 2016, 744ha of the adjacent state forest was turned into national park but this parcel was not included.

The land directly opposite on the other side of Steve Irwin Way, now called the Mooloolah River National Park, was once part of the Beerwah State Forest.

“Currently the land has national park values that were identified nearly 20 years ago,” writes Stella Wiggins. “Once it’s logged this value will be diminished. This land was earmarked to be added to the Mooloolah National Park across the road to give a continuous wildlife corridor to the dam.”

But not all locals agree.

Marty Ashton argues that the plans sound like a reasonable and responsible logging proposal.

“It’s a 5,600ha state forest and they’re proposing to clear some hardwood from only 100ha, which has been a long-term plan. If the ecosystems and wildlife in those areas were of importance it would have been transferred to (or remained as) national park about 10 years ago,” Marty wrote.

Location of the Beerwah State Forest portion to be logged

Cindy Vennix agrees. “It’s looks to be actually responsible management of the forest and utilising the trees taken in a productive way. Sounds like they’re being somewhat mindful of what is to be taken and what’s left behind to help in maintaining the integrity of the trees and forest …”

SCEC, the local peak environment group, is concerned about the impact of the logging.

“In a time of biodiversity and climate crises we need to conserve biodiversity, protect threatened species, sequester carbon and connect with nature,” Narelle McCarthy, SCEC advocacy officer, said.

“Despite the requirement to adhere to a code of practice, the logging of a significant portion of this remarkable forest would still have a huge impact on endangered wildlife through loss of habitat, foraging areas and disturbance, and greatly diminish its currently outstanding and irreplaceable conservation values.

“To lose the significant conservation and cultural values of this forest to power poles and floorboards would be shocking and short-sighted,” Ms McCarthy said.

“Leaving this 130ha portion of the Beerwah State Forest intact for transfer into national park before 2024 would make an important contribution to the much-needed and overdue expansion of Queensland’s currently inadequate protected area estate as committed to by the Premier in 2019.”

Comments were sought from Member for Caloundra, Jason Hunt.