May 2010

Sorry it has been over a month since I last wrote to you, but I have been extremely busy both in the office and out in the bush.

As you will see in this film clip (click here to watch the clip), one of our new team members Jon Michael Mooney (JM) and I went to the South East  Forests to meet up

with Prue Acton and others in the fight to save one of the last remaining koala populations in this region.

I attended and spoke at a community meeting where 150 people came to share their frustrations at the logging that is occurring as we speak, and may I say that I felt very proud as an Australian to see so many people who care.

Being on the road is hard, fascinating, and I learn more and more as I re-visit places that I have been before over my 22 year career. It was wonderful to see JM’s face as I explained some of the complexities of conserving the koala and watching as he was completely shocked at what he was seeing. For instance, when I visited this area nearly twenty years ago, the same problems occurred. The loggers were/are taking beautiful big saw logs which would be used for furniture, building houses and the like, and wood chipping it. Now, of course, there is a shortage of saw logs and the size of the logs being cut down now get smaller and smaller which makes the industry less and less viable. It is all so complex, but as I said in various media interviews, this is the result of complete mismanagement by our Governments over many many years. We also went to a forest that is now a National Park and when you look at that footage (click here to watch the clip) you will see that there are virtually no big trees in it anymore - they have all been logged out. Hardly a sustainable industry. When you look at the pile of woodchips though, it is almost impossible to imagine that we could destroy such beautiful trees - it is such a waste. But as I explained to JM, all of us use paper each day and this is where it comes from. We decided that we are going to use some of this footage to explain to everyone, including me, that wasting a piece of paper means in some way that we have wasted a koala tree. It is so hard to live a sustainable life.

Then I went back to Gunnedah and met with a group of women, mainly farmers, who are trying to protect not only the koalas on their land, but the land that produces a lot of Australia’s food. I spent a day with them after they asked me to come back to help them gain clarity on their message. Many believe that AKF, with our simple and clear messages of No Tree No Me and the like, have learnt how to make complex messages simple, and I do feel that I was of great use to them in our planning day. I have made some incredible friends out there. Although they offered to pay for my airfare which was $374.00, my Chairman and I agree that this is money well spent. Protecting the food bowl of Australia and having koalas in the trees of our farmers are so important to the future of Australia and our planet. I hope you agree.

I will talk more over the coming months about these incredible conflicts, and at this stage when I am in the bush, I am finding that I want to talk less and listen more. The solutions for the future are so important and I honestly believe the koala and its presence on a landscape enables people to come together, and hopefully good outcomes will result.

I am shocked as always at the lack of accountability and the complete lack of commitment to the environmental laws of Australia, and I can tell you that the AKF’s focus this year will be to make sure that Minister Garrett makes the right decision to protect the koala as “vulnerable” under the EPBC Act. It is imperative. I will write more about this in the coming weeks, but please join the campaigners so your voice can be heard.

I would love to hear from you, and any donations you are able to make to help us achieve our goal would be greatly appreciated. As you know we wanted a new team and I have found them. Our cameraman JM, so I can show you what I see when I go bush. Miranda Fabre who is dedicated to educating people around the world about the plight of the koala, and Belinda James who is in charge of getting our maps on the web on Google Earth. This means that people will be able to send in their sightings of koalas and we can help them protect them.

There is so much to do, but as always I love doing it and I want to welcome the new team and thank the old ones for their incredible commitment to this organisation.

Regards, Deborah