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Byron Shire
December 2, 2021

Blackwall Range koalas must be saved

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Is the coalition representing our best interests? I am very concerned about the Blackwall Range, which is home to a ‘nationally significant’ koala population and is also home to many other threatened or endangered species.
Koalas are culturally iconic and important to all Australians. They are unique.
Despite widespread public opposition to the highly contentious Stage 10 upgrade of the Pacific Highway, which will cut through this key habitat, the NSW government approved the plans.
The area boasts a high koala carrying capacity, with many swamp mahoganies and forest red gums, and is ideal, precious native forest.
The Blackwall Range koalas have been found to be a ‘source population’, for at least 110 years, for koalas in other parts of the northern rivers. They must be saved to protect this iconic threatened species.
As a north coast resident, I understand the importance of the highway up-grade. I am not suggesting there is a conflict between protecting the lives of humans and those of koalas and other important species.They are not mutually exclusive sets.
But highways can be moved; special habitat areas cannot be replaced. Already, large numbers of this vulnerable species are injured each year on the roads and the mitigation of fencing the proposed route will only funnel the koalas into unfenced intersections, so the road toll will be far worse.
New, international-standard population-modeling analysis and scientific evidence reveal that, if the current Stage 10 goes ahead, it will result in a catastrophic local extinction event within the next 20 to 25 years.
One of the suggested alternate routes, that to the east of Wardell, would be cheaper and shorter, but may go through cane farms, though the impact would be minimal, as much of the existing highway would be utilised.
May I suggest that a nation with an alarming obesity rate needs koalas more than it needs more sugar. I look to our representatives to step in and save this nationally important koala colony from extinction.
The route of the Pacific Highway upgrade needs urgent intervention to reverse the approval of the plans, in order to preserve this biodiversity hotspot and ultimately save the local koala population from extinction.
Do you think the federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, will do this? Do you think he cares about what you want?
Wildlife is precious to all Australians, now and in the future. It represents a significant part of our natural heritage.
What is more important than the stewardship of precious, irreplaceable forests, than caring for nature that supports every species, including ours?
Surely we want  state and federal governments current and future generations can thank  for protecting their heritage. Will you vote for the coalition at the next state election?
Mary Forbes, Eungai Creek

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