South East Queensland's Native State Forests Need Protecting
As part of our National Parks for life campaign we see protecting native forest currently held within state forests as a priority. Despite having more plants and animal species than any other state or territory, Queensland currently has just over 8% of land in protected areas. Lower than any other state or territory in Australia.
Recent research commissioned by QCC (Proposed State Forest Transfers – SEQ Regional Planning Region 2021) revealed that 70,000 hectares (ha) of state forest in South East Qld is home to a rich and important diversity of plants and animals and should be transferred to protected areas. These areas of state forests are recognised as providing irreplaceable intact native ecosystems. With hundreds of plant and animal species classified as endangered, forest protection is a critical component to maintaining a strong network of protected areas for the health of not only our environment but also our own wellbeing.
Although state forests are public land, their main purpose is for timber extraction not habitat protection. This leaves them wide open and vulnerable to ongoing logging and other destructive processes, leading to state-wide biodiversity loss and threatening the ongoing survival of already endangered species.
SEQ holds some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the state. Preserving and protecting state forests through transferring them to protected areas will help safeguard the future of endangered species.
The Qld government has made a number of commitments as part of the SEQ Forestry Agreement to protect Qld's unique plants and animals, including a commitment to end logging of native forest in the lower half of SEQ by 2024 and the transfer of native state forests to protected areas. However, the transfer commitment is only for 20,000 ha. This leaves 50,000 ha of unprotected state forest with no plan for protection.
We need the Queensland government to commit to transferring all 70000 hectares of native forest in state forest to protected areas before it is logged.
How you can help
Send an email to the premier now to demonstrate your support for the protection of all 70000 hectares of native forest in state forests before it is logged. This email also calls for the protection of 'Ferny Forest' native forest in Beerwah State forest that is currently scheduled for logging.
Together we need to stand up and get organised to protect nature, climate and communities. QCC depends on volunteers to be able to make the difference we need, it will take everyone to do want they can no matter how big or small. Join the national parks volunteer working group to help spread the word and build active support for the campaign.
As a way to show just how important these state forests are we are launching a citizen science project, Forest Watch. We will be holding a series of BioBlitz events across South East Qld state forest to highlight the incredible diversity of these special state forests. Join us at our next BioBlitz or head out into a state forest with a few friends using iNaturalist to record your sightings.
Examples of state forests needing protection
Beerwah and Sunshine Coast State Forests
Right now, native forest in Beerwah State Forest, on the lands of the Jinibara and the Kabi Kabi / Gubbi Gubbi peoples on the Sunshine Coast, is under threat from logging, expected to start in early 2022. This native forest is affectionately known by locals who want it protected as ‘Ferny Forest’ and could be home to vulnerable species like Glossy Black Cockatoos, Greater Gliders, Koalas and Tusk frogs. Other state forests are likely to face a similar fate over the next couple of years.
Local groups including the Sunshine Coast Environment Council, Save Ferny Forest and the local Birdlife group are already building support, surveying the forest, gaining media attention and pressuring their MPs.
Yabba State Forest National Park Proposal
There has already been a proposal presented to the QLD government by Hinterland Bush Links, Conondale Range Conservation Association, National Parks Association Queensland and Sunshine Coast Environment Council, for Yabba state forest and surrounding state forests to be protected and transitioned to a national park, creating connectivity between Wrattens and Conondale National Parks.
These protections will help secure the future of fifteen endangered and of concern regional ecosystems, and protect the habitat for at least sixteen threatened species including, Koala, Greater Glider and Black-breasted Buttonquail, Giant Barred Frog.
Extension of Benarkin National Park.
Gazetted in 2006 is a little known and highly inaccessible national park on the northern end of Benarkin State Forest. The national park is currently only 218 hectares but contains endangered regional ecosystems and vulnerable species including black-breasted button-quail and brush-tailed rock-wallaby.
Surrounding this national park is a further 9 thousand hectares of diverse ecosystems including habitat for Koalas and Greater gliders, rainforest and endangered vine thickets. These vine thickets are home to towering Qld Bottle Trees, and are a ecosystem underrepresented in protected areas with only 15% of there pre colonisation distribution remaining.
The area is a popular spot for regional tourism with the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail running through Benarkin state forest. If the Benarkin national park was expanded, under strong management it could attract more visitors to the area.