The spring and summer of 2019 and 2020 saw an unprecedented fire season. In the worst-hit state, New South Wales fire affected more than five million hectares, destroying more than 3,000 houses and forcing thousands to seek shelter elsewhere. Twenty-eight people lost their lives (as of 19.1.2020) the fires have claimed at least one billion animals, according to University of Sydney environmental sciences professor Chris Dickman. The most affected vegetation was heath land, with more than half affected by fire. Then this was followed by wet sclerophyll forests with more than 40 per cent burnt. Of the 300 fauna species listed as “threatened” under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, the habitat of 60 were affected by these fires.
Most of the animals that escaped the unprecedented crisis will eventually perish. “Even the animals that haven’t immediately been killed from the fires and the smoke, most of those that are displaced will eventually die,” Professor Martine Maron said. “The problem is there aren’t a lot of unburnt refuges through these areas, and of course, where there are unburnt areas of habitat, there are already other animals there using it.”
It is the position of the FOKH that the permanent protection of the globally significant forests of the Headwaters Conservation Reserve from logging becomes a priority for the NSW Government and this Strategic Plan is developed to achieve this end.
In November 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency revoked the licences allowing the logging of Oakes, Scotchman and Roses Creek SF; FCNSW must resubmit a new application, and demonstrate community consultation. FKH is expecting efforts to recommence logging any day.