Moratorium needed for koala recovery

Koala expert and leading ecologist, Dr Steve Phillips, is calling for a moratorium on development and future use of the Black Rocks sports field to give the surviving koalas time to rest and recover to more sustainable levels after the recent Pottsville Wetlands fire.

According to Dr Phillips, 30-60 per cent of the koala breeding population may have perished, with as few as 15 koalas left in the area.

In 2011 there were an estimated 144 koalas on the Tweed Coast. In 2014 prior to the fire there were an estimated 100-110.

At this rate of decline koalas will be extinct on the coast in the foreseeable future.

Dr Phillips made an impassioned plea to the community to put their differences aside and take a united stance against ‘an extinction event which we are facing in our backyard and in our lifetime’, ie the permanent loss of our iconic koala on the coast.

At the recent koala information afternoon at Pottsville Dr Phillips announced that ‘the Black Rocks sports field site and surrounding areas of habitat, which were unaffected by the fire, are now the last stronghold for the Pottsville Wetlands-Black Rocks koala population cell, from where recolonisation of the existing habitat areas (once they regenerate) is going to primarily occur’.

It is therefore more important than ever that this area has maximum koala protection, especially considering that the NSW Scientific Committee has made a Preliminary Determination to support a proposal for the threatened status of the Tweed Coast koalas to be upgraded to ‘endangered’.

‘After the fire we are now dealing with very small numbers here and strong assertive action is the only hope of turning this decline around,’ said Dr Phillips.

‘With an expected two joeys a year coming out of this critical cell, it is going to take several generations of koalas to reach more sustainable levels. They need us to lend them a hand. This means leaving them alone.’

Dr Phillips said that it is up to us, the community, to decide whether we do what it takes to save our koalas or lose them forever.

Please register your support for a moratorium with the Tweed Shire Council and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

Lynette Dickinson
, Pottsville

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