Although disappointed that federal environment minister Hunt chose not to bite the bullet and direct the NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to re-route Stage 10 of the Woolgoolga to Ballina Highway Upgrade project, Friends of the Koala welcomes his intervention.
By putting the onus back on RMS to demonstrate that the impacts on the long-term viability of the koala population of the NSW-approved route will be acceptable, the minister is definitely upping the ante. The question is whether the ante will be high enough to ensure the koalas’ survival.
The minister’s decision acknowledges the high level of public interest which has generated thousands of submissions.
He’s also remarked on his careful consideration of the population viability modelling submitted by Dr Steve Phillips and the findings of the earlier Ballina Shire koala habitat study which he delivered to Ballina Council in late 2013.
Friends of the Koala, co-sponsor of the Save Ballina’s Koalas campaign with the Ballina Environment Society wishes to warmly thank everyone who has emailed, called or written to a politician and/or signed a petition over the past seven months expressing concern for the survival of the Blackwall Range and its nationally significant koalas.
We also thank members of the Blackwall Highway Action Group, the staff of IFAW’s Oceania office for their wonderful guidance and support and the regional media for giving this critical issue prominence.
Finally, we thank Dr Phillips for his enormous pro-bono contribution and Cr Jeff Johnson for his tireless work co-ordinating the campaign.
The work needed to Save Ballina’s Koalas is far from over. For more information visit (and ‘like’) Save Ballina’s Koalas on Facebook
Lorraine Vass, president, Friends of the Koala