Climate change and its contribution to more intense bushfire seasons may force a rethink over how logging of native forests is managed, new research from the University of Wollongong released this week has found.
And with larger areas of forest exposed to more frequent fires, several threatened species face massive habitat loss over 50 years.
Modelling the impact on habitat for 24 threatened species under hotter temperatures, the report, performed for the NSW Natural Resources Commission, found seven of the 24 species would face habitat reduction of more than 75 per cent by the year 2070.
The 2019/20 fires burned an estimated 41 per cent of the area regulated under the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (CIFOAs), including 60 per cent of its state forests and national parks. The research found this meant that whether the predicted outcomes resulting from forestry approvals were "highly vulnerable".
"These changes to fire regimes, wrought by the 2019/20 fires, were likely to pose significant risks to the CIFOA objectives and outcomes," the report said.
"Importantly the magnitude of the fires and their effect on disturbance regimes have placed the CIFOA, generally, in a highly vulnerable state where risk may be maintained at an elevated level into the immediate future."
The fires had doubled the extent of vulnerable forest, lead researcher Emeritus Professor Ross Bradstock said.
"We found half of the state forest and national park area is now classified as 'vulnerable' in coastal NSW. This means the 2019/20 fires effectively doubled the extent of vulnerable forested vegetation on these tenures," he said.
The researchers said ecosystem monitoring needed to change to respond to warming climates.
"The monitoring program for the CIFOA needs to be tailored to encompass and scrutinise effects of contrasting, long-term disturbance regime patterns emergent from the 2019/20 fire season," it said.
"In particular, such a program needs to focus on rapidly changing extremes of disturbance regimes (e.g. fire and harvesting) plus interactions with drought.
"This is needed to better understand likely responses of forest regeneration, structure, threatened species and other aspects of biodiversity to increasing fire frequency, driven by likely warming and drying. This will supply information crucial for understanding adaptation and intervention."