‘Stand up for koalas or they won’t survive in the wild’ is the warning call from the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA).
‘The NSW Government is carrying out a koala extermination program. It really can’t be seen as anything else. It is gutting protections for koalas in all the relevant legislation’ said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
Mr Pugh was speaking out after the state government’s contentious Biodiversity Conservation bill passed parliament last week.
‘On Thursday Premier Baird opened up an estimated 2.2 million hectares of identified koala habitat on private land for clearing under his new ‘equity codes’. Although there is clearly no ‘equity’ for koalas.
Mr Pugh said the new act removed protection for endangered populations of koalas that live between the Tweed and Brunswick Rivers, among others.
‘These populations have… been identified by the NSW Scientific Committee as being in imminent danger of becoming extinct,’ he said.
‘This follows earlier announcements by the Baird government that next year it intends to remove requirements for the Forestry Corporation to look for koalas before they log, and protect Koala High Use Areas on public land.
‘Baird’s latest nail in the koala’s coffin was announced on Friday. He now intends to gut the 20 year old ‘State Environmental Planning Policy No 44 – Koala Habitat Protection’ (SEPP 44) to simplify approvals for developers,’ Mr Pugh said.
‘Baird’s executioner is planning minister Rob Stokes. He intends to remove the need for developers to prepare site specific Koala Plans of Management, weaken the definition of core koala habitat and remove the need for councils to zone core koala habitat for protection in their Local Environment Plans.
‘These changes make it clear that it is a deliberate, co-ordinated and comprehensive attack on the very survival of koalas’.
‘Over the 20 years from 1990 to 2010 koala populations in NSW are estimated to have declined by 33 per cent. Koala populations are crashing throughout the state. As a result of premier Baird’s comprehensive removal of koala protections it is unlikely that NSW’s koalas will survive the next 20 years in the wild. It is a government program for extermination’ Mr. Pugh said.
NEFA is calling on people who want protections for koalas strengthened rather than weakened to make a submission at http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Koala-habitat or call the premier’s office on (02) 8574 5000’.
‘Saving the wild koalas of NSW will require a massive public outcry, as koalas on rural lands have already lost most of their protections, and the onslaught will continue next year when the public land changes take effect, and protections for urban koala populations are slashed,’ Mr Pugh said.