In relation to Matthew France’s letter of 13 August, this is what the koala experts are saying:
1. Ecologist Sandy Pimm (5/12/2013): ‘The Pottsville Wetlands/Black Rocks Koala sub-population is critical to the survival of the koala on the Tweed Coast. This area is the one at present least affected by road and bushfire impacts.’
2. Ecologist Dr Steve Phillips (7/3/2015): ‘In 2012 there was a major fire which wiped out habitat, and combined with mortalities due to road strike, disease and attacks by domestic dogs in Tanglewood, in just 5 years there was a significant number lost, leaving approximately 100-110 koalas. At that rate we can predict koalas will be extinct on the Tweed Coast by 2025-2030.’
3. Ecologist Dr Steve Phillips (7/3/2015): ‘The Black Rocks sports field and surrounding areas of habitat were not affected by the fire (Pottsville Wetlands Christmas Day 2014 bush fire) and 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.’
4. Ecologist Dr Steve Phillips (26/1/2015): ‘It may already be that the levels of disturbance at Black Rocks are already contributing to elevated levels of disease in the small population that is now left following the recent fire event.’ [2 Black Rocks koalas have been euthanased due to the stress-related disease Chlamydia, another remains uncaptured and untreated. 8 other Black Rocks koala sightings have revealed Chlamydia-like symptoms.]
5. Ecologist John Callaghan (10/6/2015): ‘I would strongly urge Tweed Shire Council to defer making a decision on the Development Application for a Mens’ Shed at the Black Rocks sports fields site pending outcomes from a thorough updated assessment of the current koala population in this area…..If the Tweed Coast koala population is to be afforded a realistic chance of survival and recovery over the longer term, a precautionary approach will be necessary and the future of each remaining koala will be critical.’
6. Ecologist Dr Steve Phillips (30/9/2014): ‘The increasing development pressure being placed on the sports field locality is paramount to an abrogation of Council’s responsibilities to koala conservation in the Tweed. The recent issue of the Men’s Shed in particular was/is – in my view – little more than a Trojan Horse intended to establish a development footprint within the grounds, and so increase the perceived importance of the site for human-themed activities.’
7. Ecologist Dr Steve Phillips (30/9/2014): ‘It has long been my view that the sports field area should be rehabilitated because of its location and importance as a central hub for koala movement.’
8. Ecologist Sandy Pimm (5/12/2013): ‘I fully support Steve Phillips comments (3/11/2013) that the area (ie the Black Rocks sports field) is in the middle of an identified koala corridor and breeding animals are already using the available habitat. Increasing the potential for use of the area by humans/domestic dogs is not a good outcome and Council will not be able to police a “no dogs” rule. Hence I am supportive of the area being identified/included in some form of koala habitat rehabilitation strategy.’
Unlike the misinformation contained in Mr France’s letter, the Threatened Species Conservation Society only presents well-researched facts and the opinions of the koala experts, with one interest in mind: the survival of the highly threatened Tweed Coast koala population (of which the Pottsville Wetlands/Black Rocks koala source population is a critical part) which have a Preliminary Determination by the NSW Scientific Committee to be listed as ‘endangered’.
What better gift can we give our children than to ensure that our iconic koala is alive and well into the future!
David Norris , president Threatened Species Conservation Society Inc , Pottsville