Politics and the Hat, Forest Ecology Alliance (FEA)

Politics and the Hat, Forest Ecology Alliance (FEA)

A hat seems to be about to capture the painful present. In the middle of map reading in Newry State Forest. We are trying to preserve the life of Koalas and their habitat.

L to r, Suzanne, Ben, Deanne and Johnny from Forest Ecology Alliance (FEA) map reading, Newry State Forest. 11.2.2021

Yesterday, we were in the forest looking for Koalas and their scratching, and measuring the largest trees. On Saturday, we were busy at the Koala Action Day (KAD) at Valla Beach (delayed almost a year because of COVID). Funded by the State Government through Council, the heart of the project is networking, connecting landowners with Landcare. The aim is to plant over 20,000 Koala food trees in corridors and selected sites to remediate the effects of the bushfires.

Stump and Grey Gum, a favourite Koala food tree, looking very red after shedding its bark rapidly following heavy rains, Newry SF

I addressed Nambucca Valley Council (NVC) last year in support of Clr Susan Jenvey’s motion asking for support for the Great Koala National Park (as neighbouring councils had) and a moratorium on logging Koala habitat after the terrible bushfires. They were both defeated and I reigned as Chair of the Koala Day Action Group. We were doing so much work for a day that made Council look like they cared about the environment.

A diversity of trees, Newry SF

Yesterday, Council debated whether to support the Proposed Headwaters Conservation Proposal – A Nature Reserve for the Upper Kalang, Middle Bellinger and Nambucca Rivers. They would not support the proposal. The Mayor has sent emails around annoyed that TV coverage of KAD on Saturday mistakenly reported that KAD was organised by NVC and FEA.

Newry SF

Newry State Forest is about to be clearfelled.

Letter to the Mayor and Councillors

Professor Ryan’s report on the Great Koala National Park – ongoing logging of native forests no longer makes sense Wed, 3 Feb, 14:16 (9 days ago)

Here, on the Mid-North Coast of NSW, the logging of native forests is continuing despite the terrible bushfires of a year ago, and the loss of fauna, including Koalas, and flora.

I asked this council to support neighbouring councils in contributing to a landmark study on the feasibility of the Great Koala National Park. I was unsuccessful, nevertheless the study by Professor Roberta Ryan of the University of Newcastle (Feb 2) has been released.

It is no surprise to most people that Professor Ryan reports that the park would deliver a significant lift in jobs, which was of concern to Council: “Over the next 15 years the Park is projected to generate more than 9,800 extra full-time equivalent jobs across tourism, infrastructure, and science and education, and inject $330 million in additional wages into the region,” In addition, Professor Ryan projected additional regional economic output of $1.2 billion over the next 15 years. And, in addition, $1.7 billion worth in biodiversity values.

Koalas are becoming rare; predictions suggest they of their extinction in NSW in our lifetime. Their trees are being destroyed for electricity, a process producing more CO2 than burning coal and it takes decades for trees to grow and sequester the carbon again. The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has recently highlighted the fact that electricity produced from biomass is three times more expensive than solar power.

Worldwide, deforestation is responsible for an estimated 5 billion tons, or 17 percent, of annual global carbon emissions, not to mention soil erosion and biodiversity loss.[1] We are making a bad situation worse.

I would hope that all councillors will read the report: ‘The Great Koala National Park economic impact assessment and environmental benefit analysis’, available at

Please consider the future of this region and let’s look forward to vibrant, healthy and sustainable land management.


Dr John Bennett
Valla Beach, NSW

Yesterday, we were out looking for Koalas, their scratch marks and measuring the larger trees. Newry State Forest is scheduled for logging in the next few weeks. Politics here is life and death for birds and animals, plants and trees.

Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal. Nature always strikes back – and it is already doing so with growing force and fury. Biodiversity is collapsing. One million species are at risk of extinction. Ecosystems are disappearing before our eyes … Human activities are at the root of our descent toward chaos. But that means human action can help to solve it. UN secretary general, António Guterres, ‘The State of the Planet’, Columbia University, New York, 2020.

Our reckless destruction of nature already leads to death from famine, unclean water and conflict. The future is one of food and water wars. The UN calculates that 5 billion people could experience water shortages by 2050.World Water Forum, 2018.

Newry SF a beautiful forest


War is nothing but a continuation of politics with other means. Karl von Clausewitz On War, 1832

Have you heard of Gottwald and Clementis,
two Communist leaders sounding like
Grimms’ characters from ‘Old German Forests’?

They spoke from a palace balcony to crowds
in the Old Town Square; it was winter 1948, the start
of Stalinist rule. It was snowing, Clementis took off

his hat and put it on Gottwald’s head. The gesture
became famous and the photograph widely reproduced.
Gottwald hung Clementis less than four years later.

The propaganda section immediately made him
vanish from history. . . Nothing remains of Clementis
but the fur hat on Gottwald’s head.   Milan Kundera


[1] Brent Sohngen, ‘An Analysis of Forestry Carbon Sequestration as a Response to Climate Change’, Copenhagen Consensus Center, Jan. 1, 2018.



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