- Keep Our Koalas Safe
- dailymail.co.uk / horrible moment koala seen clinging life loggers bulldoze home
If this footage disturbs you, please add your name to this petition directed at Victoria's Environment Minister.
Late January 2015: Mother Koala and Baby in a bluegum plantation near Bessiebelle in South West Victoria. The plantation is owned by Australian Bluegum Plantations. The Contractors are C3 Australia. The plantation is certified by Forest Stewardship Council. Hundreds of koalas are reported to be living in plantations in the local area. How many more will be injured or killed? See this report by Friends of the Earth for more information.
With this petition, we can send a strong message to our State Government that they must start giving greater resources and protection to our koalas.
Dear Hon Lisa Neville, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water
I am writing to inform you that I am deeply concerned about the current danger our koala population faces in the State's south west. As you would know the koala tragedy unfolding in Victoria's hardwood plantations has recently gained international news. This is the second time since 2013 that the international spotlight has been shone on Victoria's Plantation Industry. The unnecessary deaths and injuries to our native wildlife is unacceptable. The issue is severely impacting on Victoria's (and Australia's) environmental reputation.
As a way out of this mess I call upon the Andrews Government to immediately implement an Operational Code of Practice for the Management of Koala Populations living in plantations that will be legally enforceable and which will cover all companies operating in koala habitat throughout Victoria.
Furthermore we would urge the Andrews Government to increase funding for staff to enforce the Wildlife Act in regions which have high densities of koalas and where koalas are being impacted by recent plantation activities.
We also urge the Andrews Government to act swiftly against companies that are killing and injuring koalas and bring the full force of the law to be used against companies that are doing the wrong thing.
A distressed local mother and daughter captured the moment on camera at an Australian Bluegum Plantation in Bessiebelle in south west Victoria
They have chosen to remain anonymous after being allegedly verbally abused and threatened by the workers
A Friends of the Earth spokesperson said that while the koala is believed to have survived the fall, they found three others had been injured at the site
Activists are looking to take legal action against the company
Thousands of koalas are estimated to inhabit the plantation that is currently being cleared
By LILLIAN RADULOVA FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA
PUBLISHED: 21:48 EST, 5 February 2015 | UPDATED: 17:29 EST, 6 February 2015
Disturbing footage of a mother koala and her joey plummeting to the ground as their tree is bulldozed by loggers has revealed the grim fate that could face thousands more as plantations continue to be cleared at record speed.
The marsupials were spotted clinging onto a tree at an Australian Bluegum Plantation (ABP) in Bessiebelle in south west Victoria by a distressed local mother and her daughter who filmed the incident.
Friends of the Earth's spokesperson Anthony Amis told Daily Mail Australia that they have since chosen to remain anonymous after being abused for confronting those involved.
'There were verbal threats from apparently the spotter and the machinery operator and there was a threat made to push the woman's car off the road – this behaviour isn't unusual with logging companies,' Mr Amis said.
While the mother koala has been reported to have survived the fall, Mr Amis said the woman who filmed the ordeal returned to the same area the next day to find three other injured koalas.
'It is believed that it was a mother and her joey. I've heard that the animal survived the fall but there are still concerns from the footage takers that it could be injured and they don't know what happened to the baby,' he said.
'The person that took the footage went back to the site a day later and found three very sick and injured koalas - one had to be euthanized because it had maggots in it.
'There would have been a wound in the animal that became infected and flies have moved in and laid eggs, then the maggots hatch and start eating into the wound.'
Mr Amis explained that most plantation companies had 'spotters' that walk ahead of the machinery, whose operators can only see ahead, and try to spot koalas before their tree is cut down.
'In this instance, someone wasn't doing their job properly,' he said.
'The Wildlife Act offers koalas protection in Victoria and we think it has been breached in this instance and we will be talking to lawyers in the next day or two about what our options are.'
This sentiment was repeated by Wildlife Victoria spokesperson Karen Masson, who told Channel Seven News that authorities were monitoring the koala mother that was filmed falling alongside her home.
'We do have some people in the area who are monitoring that koala, she has scurried up another tree and rather than stress her any more we are just monitoring her from a distance and hopefully she'll be OK,' Ms Masson said.
'We would like to see these people prosecuted – this is cruelty.'
Tens of thousands of hectares of blue gum trees have been planted in the region as part of the plantation in the last 15 to 20 years, according to Mr Amis.
Due to a lack of alternative native forest, hundreds of koalas are believed to have moved in and now call it home. But as loggers start removing the trees, Mr Amis has predicted a 'koala blood bath'.
'According to top koala expert Steve Phillips, he estimates that on the most nutrient rich soils we could be looking at a koala on each hectare – that's a lot of animals,' he said.
'Not all of the plantations would be that high, but we imagine that 80 per cent of the plantations would have koala activity.
'Now the plantations are being cut, they're being logged at a great rate. There are more blue gums being harvested than ever before, so the impact on the animal is going to be severe.'
Daily Mail Australia has contacted ABP for comment. Their website states that it is 'committed to the hardwood plantation industry's ultimate goal of zero harm to koalas'.
In June, a post to their website said that 'significant improvements' had been made to its koala management and protection program over the previous six months.These are listed as having independent koala spotters and the implementation of new technologies and work practices.
In an ideal world, companies would perform a population assessment in their plantations before the logging begins and if animal numbers are high, the area is not cut down until the animals have moved on.
'I don't think population surveys are being done by this company- I think they're meant to leave a few trees standing if they spot a koala and just log around it,' Mr Amis said.
'What we need is corridors and linkage inside the plantation so companies need to dedicate a large proportion of their land to rehabilitate native forests within their holdings.That will provide safe movement within and beyond the plantation boundary for koalas.
'There needs to be approved relocation programs that identify suitable habitats, and there needs to be designated exclusion zones.
'All tree felling should cease within a two-tree distance of any koala observed and should not resume until it has moved on or been relocated. They need to train koala spotters and have rescue kits and people who are capable of handling and processing koalas who are also linked with vets and trained to treat injured koalas.'