Yurangalo Inc

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Yurangalo formed in 1996 as a result of the Interim Assessment Process that began the Eden Comprehensive Regional Assessment.  The group came together with the purpose of developing a set of Voluntary Conservation Agreements to cover numerous properties adjoining the then Western Yurammie and Southern Tantawangalo State Forests, west of Merimbula on the far south coast of NSW.

The group saw this process as a way of protecting private lands, saving the adjoining forests, protecting water catchments and enhancing a wildlife corridor from the escarpment to the sea.

The presence of at least 8 recorded threatened species, (Koala, Yellow-bellied Glider, Potoroo, Sooty Owl, Powerful Owl, Barking Owl, Glossy Cockatoo and Giant Burrowing Frog), rainforest, swamps and stands of old growth and mature forest meant there were many values within the forest requiring protection.

Since 1994 these forests had been protected under a Koala moratorium. The area has a long history of Koala occupation. The entire Yurammie forest has been identified in the draft South Coast Management Area Recovery Plan as being a core Koala area in the region.

Western Yurammie has important biodiversity values associated with rainforest, old growth and mature tall moist Eucalypt forest, soil and water. Much of this forest is growing on undulating and relatively fertile country. The old growth and adjoining Goodenia rainforest have been identified as being sufficient to warrant nomination to the register of the National Estate. It is a watershed for two river systems (Towamba and Pambula) and its rainforest gullies are part of the Wyndham township’s water catchment.

During the Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) negotiations Yurangalo advocated the gazettal of both Southern Tantawangalo and Western Yurammie State Forests into National Parks. Western Yurammie had already been included in the Conservation Option and the addition of Southern Tantawangalo was requested. In the RFA Southern Tantawangalo was put into the Reserve System. Western Yurammie (compartments 963-967) was made into a Special Prescription Zone and remains in State Forests NSW (SFNSW) tenure.

In 1999 a Long Footed Potoroo sighting resulted in two surveys which reported Potoroos but did not determine the species present. Also in 1999 two Giant Burrowing Frogs were found within the area. The most recent evidence of Koalas was found in 2000. No survey has been undertaken since for Koalas. In 2001 Yurangalo undertook nocturnal surveys and found evidence of Yellow Bellied Gliders, Sooty Owls and Powerful Owls.

Part of the Western Yurammie forest contains wetlands referred to as cut and fill swamps. Vegetation expert David Keith has suggested that extensive survey on a regional basis is necessary to determine the status of these swamps within the forest matrix.

The western rainforest gullies of Western Yurammie are part of the catchment of the Myrtle Creek, which supplies Wyndham township with water. In 1998 and 2001 petitions were signed by local residents and others in nearby localities requesting the protection of this forest. However, in response, the NSW Government continues to assert that the threatened species, aesthetics, water and other values can be protected while the forest is logged.

At the end of 2000 SFNSW produced a logging proposal for Western Yurammie. Yurangalo, other community members and other local conservation groups vigorously lobbied the government to finally protect this forest that adjoined the South East Forests National Parks. To date, the NSW Government has not accepted the community’s wishes.  Increasing local concern for the forest values we wish to protect are reflected in the petitions, letters, postcards, surveys and support from local community groups.

In the second half of 2001, Yurangalo participated in two meetings with State Forests NSW, in August and October. These meetings established some parameters for discussing the future of the Western Yurammie Special Prescription Zone. Information was sought on both occasions regarding forestry practices and definitions. For a range of reasons no further meetings have taken place.

At the same time as discussions began with SFNSW, Yurangalo sent to the NSW Parliament a petition requesting the protection of the Western Yurammie forest. The petition stated that this forest ought to be protected from logging because it is worth more to the local community for its other values. These values include precious water catchments, habitat for threatened fauna, unique and special floral features (especially its swamps and rainforests), stands of old growth and mature forest and its priceless beauty. Over 700 people signed the petition; the vast majority of whom are from the local area.

Despite the obvious concerns expressed by these signatories, the government continues to assert, in its response to the petition, that the values of the community can be protected while the forest is logged. Yurangalo Inc persisted in lobbying NSW Government ministers regarding the community’s concerns for this area.

In 2005 Yurangalo joined with other local conservation groups in a rally in Bega. This rally was held to highlight community support for local forests. At the time State Forests NSW were targeting the Mumb ulla/Murrah forests in particular.

Since 2006, Yurangalo Inc has been producing calendars that feature images taken by its members to highlight the beauty and biodiversity of Western Yurammie. The calendars have maintained community awareness of the ongoing issues surrounding this forest as well as raising funds for its protection. Also in 2006 Yurangalo’s focus was participation in a community consultative process to help protect the region’s Koalas. By 2007 the report from the Koala process had not been released. Despite continued lobbying regarding the Yurammie SPZ there still had been no promise from the NSW Government to protect it from logging.

In 2008 the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change held meetings to release the Koala Report and ask for submissions. In 2009 surveys took place in the north of the region. To date there has been no response to submissions on Koalas.

In late 2009 Yurangalo discovered, by accident, that the Yurammie SPZ was on a Forests NSW Logging Schedule for early 2010!