by Gerry Georgatos Conservationists have been campaigning to save what they say is WA's largest numbat colony in Warrup. The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) had been denying such a colony existed.
The conservationists have called for a halt to logging in Warrup after finding what they say is irrefutable evidence of endangered numbats living near the logging in Warrup.
Forest Rescue Australia (FRA) coordinator, Simon Peterffy said that an activist on February 21 photographed a numbat within three metres of a logging road and 200 metres from logging activity. On February 24, a former DEC officer, Jenny Dewing, visited the site and confirmed the photograph as genuine.
The photographs was taken by Bridgetown resident Panda Broad. Ms Broad said, "There are only 1,000 numbats left - full stop. The photos of the numbat are proof they do live in Warrup. How many creatures will humans make extinct through their greed for money?"
Ms Dewing, who spent 5 years working as a wildlife officer for DEC, said there was no doubt Warrup was home to a numbat habitat.
Environment minister Bill Marmion said the logging was in the numbat habitat however not all of the coupe would be logged. He said DEC had strategies in place to protect any numbat habitats. "Warrup block is near substantial reserve areas, the Kingston fauna habitat zone, and a network of informal reserves, including old-growth forest, in which no timber harvesting occurs," said Mr Marmion.
WA Forest Alliance spokeswoman, Jess Beckerling said, "Research on the impact of logging on numbats was lacking and research is needed to ensure the creatures are not driven into extinction."
"Warrup forest is a vital nature corridor, home to 8 endangered species of fauna," said Mr Peterffy.
"We will continue to blockade Warrup until the Forest Products Commission (FPC) abandons its diabolical plan to destroy over 1000 acres of prime habitat."
"How can we let future West Australians know that we sat idly by when the largest intact numbat colony was being destroyed by the FPC? Less than 1,000 numbats remain in the wild, so to destroy Warrup, which sits in the middle of their single largest colony, is ecological vandalism."
- A DEC spokesperson said, "Numbats are an emblematic species which this State Government is committed to protecting. Numbats are known to exist from east of the South West Highway north of Manjimup through the national park and state forest areas and the Tone Perup Nature Reserve and Lake Muir. Warrup 6, being about 15km east of the South West Highway, is in the locality where numbats occur."
"DEC administers an approvals process for all proposed timber harvesting operations. It is important to note that harvesting operations will not proceed until the Department of Environment and Conservation is satisfied that management strategies and arrangements are in place to protect the range of forest values, including numbat habitats."
"The gross area of the current coupe is 577 hectares, not all of which will be logged following allowance for old-growth forest and other reserve requirements. Warrup block is near substantial reserve areas (Greater Kingston National Park , Tone-Perup Nature Reserve), the Kingston fauna habitat zone, and a network of informal reserves, including all old-growth forest, in which no timber harvesting occurs. In any given year around 8000 hectares is available for timber harvesting activities out of a total area of 1.3 million hectares which is available for multiple use activities. On top of this, around 1.2 million hectares is protected via our national parks, nature reserves and conservation areas."
PEACEFUL PROTEST DRAWS A CROWD
The Bridgetown-Greenbushes Friends of the Forest were among a peaceful picnic protest in Warrup and the picnickers came from far and wide.
More than 90 people, many from Bridgetown, however others from as far as Bunbury, and Donnybrook, Nannup, Manjimup, Boyup Brook, Pemberton and other towns came to lend their support in peacefully demonstrating against logging in Warrup and to learn more about the issues.
A convoy of cars left Bridgetown at 9:30am from the old railway station and reached Warrup shy of 10am. There were a couple of walks through Warrup and to a marri tree, one of the few remaining - important habitat trees for the endangered cockatoos.
"Great to see such a large gathering from a wide region together to share a peaceful morning appreciating how lucky we are to live so close to native bushlands," said Cameron Barker from Nannup. However everyone acknowledged the native bushland is under threat from the nearby logging.
"When an industry is losing money to cut down the habitat of 8 endangered species, it is very clear that changes need to be made," he said. "There was no group or organisation behind this gathering, just people, everyday people from our community who truly believe this forest is too precious to be cut down - some people took the day off work, others their kids out of school. Today shows that people care."
During the picnic many talked of the need for a community forum where residents near both Warrup and Arcadia forests could ask questions of panellists including all sides - the save Warrup and Arcadia campaigners and the government agencies such as the Forest Products Commission and the Department of Environment and Conservation.
The community forum is beginning to take shape with invitations being sent out to conservation groups and government bodies. A tentative date for the forum has been jotted down - Saturday, March 31. It is yet to be decided whether it will be held in either Bridgetown or Donnybrook.
WA Forest Alliance convenor, Jess Beckerling said she will be part of it and that it is a great idea. Forest Rescue Australia's coordinator, Simon Peterffy said he'd take a day's rest from protest actions and be part of it believing a debate or a question and answer format involving all sides is a positive step.
Photos by Panda Broad (photographed February 21 in Warrup forest)