Minister responds to Ferny Forest logging protest

KOALAS could derail state government plans to log Ferny Forest following acknowledgment that more investigation was needed into their presence at the controversial site.

In a letter tabled to state parliament today (July 21) Agricultural Minister Mark Furner wrote that no decision had been made whether to stop the harvest.

But Mr Furner acknowledged that if koalas or koala habitat were identified, then the state government could be in contravention of its own environmental protection laws if it proceeded with logging.

The letter by Mr Furner – written in response to petitioners opposing the logging – stated: “I note that the conservation status of the koala under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) and the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld) (NC Act) has recently changed to ‘endangered’ in Queensland.”

Ferny Forest
Ferny Forest

“Consequently, the proposed harvest site is being assessed for koalas and koala habitat to ensure compliance with the requirements of the EPBC Act and NC Act.”

The State Government proposed in late 2021 to harvest up to 50 per cent of the 129-hectare forest, also known as Beerwah State Forest, and comes two years before the forest will be converted to national park status and becomes protected from harvesting.

In the letter Mr Furner stopped short of saying logging would not proceed.

“If the proposal to selectively harvest the Beerwah State Forest site proceeds, timber harvesting will only occur for a relatively short period of time in the overall forest management cycle,” he wrote.

“The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) will work closely with QPWS&P to manage public access during operations to ensure the safety of all forest users; minimise the impact on visitor infrastructure such as the Ferny Forest Trail; and ensure that the site can be returned to full use by the public as quickly as possible.

He wrote that the government supporters “actions to deliver a sustainable native timber industry in Queensland, balancing both jobs and the environment”.

Read the letter: www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Work-of-the-Assembly/Tabled-Papers/Online-Tabled-Papers