Push to save Peachester

By Sonia Isaacs

COMMUNITY groups are calling for the State Government to stop plans to log Peachester State Forest, claiming harvesting of the local native forest would result in an irreversible biodiversity crisis.

Acknowledged by conservation advocates as holding significant ecological, recreational, cultural and tourism values for the Peachester and broader Sunshine Coast community, local residents and conservation groups are calling upon authorities to transfer the 738 Ha forest into early protected estate, ideally adding the forest to the Glasshouse Mountains National Park area.

Concerns have been raised that with 88% of the forests remnant vegetation identified as ‘Core Koala Habitat’, and also the likely habitat for 24 nationally listed endangered or threatened species, the removal of trees in Peachester State Forest would increase the displacement and decline of wildlife who are dependent on these trees for their survival.

Peachester resident Bianca Skews said she wanted to raise the public’s awareness similar to the successful Save Ferny Forest campaign.

“A huge part of this campaign is awareness. I had no idea what was going on and I was concerned if I didn’t know what was happening in our local forests – how would other people know and take action? They call it selective harvesting but they are not regenerating, replanting or reseeding these trees and the forest is not getting the opportunity to regrow -it’s basically being overrun by weeds and invasive plants,” said Ms. Skews.

She said she was concerned not only that endangered species habitats were being logged but also for the longer-term impact for the community and future generations. She expressed her frustration that group members were unable to gain insight from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries about proposed logging dates.

“I feel like decisions are being made behind closed doors with little public knowledge of what is actually planned or impacted,” said Ms Skews.

Glenview resident Linda Daleboudt said it was ‘absolute madness’ that this was happening in 2023 – especially as Queensland was internationally recognised as a deforestation hotspot.

Instead of local forests getting a last ‘smash and grab’ they should be preserved and protected now, and for the future.

“The Sunshine Coast is experiencing unprecedented development and population growth, so natural habitats and green spaces like Peachester State Forest and Luttons State Forest will be of increasing value to our community for recreation, amenity, biodiversity and cultural values in the future”

Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) Protected Areas Campaigner Nicky Moffat said QCC were not against logging however they were championing for the protection of wildlife. She said Australian wildlife was facing extinction and needed vital habitat provided by Peachester and Luttons State forests to survive.

“We have three really special forests here, Luttons State Forest, Beerburrum West State Forest and Peachester State forest and each of these areas are home to different endangered species including Koalas and the Greater Glider, and we’d love to see them protected through an expanded National Park at Glasshouse Mountains” said Ms. Moffat.

Sunshine Coast Environment Council spokesperson Narelle McCarthy said Luttons and Peachester State Forests represented a significant contribution to the Sunshine Coast region’s biodiversity and green space. “In a time of biodiversity and climate crises, we have an obligation to lead the way with protected area expansion which supports nature and community well-being,” she said. “The importance of these natural areas and their inherent conservation and ecological values cannot be underestimated and must be protected.”