The NSW Greens have called for bipartisan support to relocate the controversial sports field at Black Rocks in Pottsville in order to ensure the survival of Tweed Coast’s dwindling koala population.
NSW Greens MPs Dawn Walker and Dr Mehreen Faruqi made the call while inspecting the sports field site this week and meeting locals.
The two called on Labor and the Nationals to join the Greens and ensure the survival of the endangered Tweed Coast koala colonies.
‘The Pottsville koala colony at Black Rocks is part of an endangered population on the Tweed-Byron Coast with fewer than 100 individual koalas left,’ Ms Walker, the Greens’ north coast spokesperson, said.
‘The situation is urgent with scientists predicting that Tweed Coast koalas will be extinct by 2025-2030.
‘The Black Rocks koala colony is critical to the survival of the koala on the Tweed Coast, yet Labor and the Nationals have joined forces to allow this highly sensitive area to be used by noisy model airplane enthusiasts, sporting groups and a men’s shed when there are better sites closer to the Pottsville town for these activities that won’t disturb our sensitive koalas.
‘We’re concerned that local sports users are being used to push for bigger plans to open up area to further development, as Pottsville faces increasing urban pressure.
‘The Greens are calling on the parliamentary secretary for northern NSW, Ben Franklin and Labor’s shadow minister for the north coast, Walt Secord, to stop just talking about koalas and actually intervene to save this endangered koala population,’ Ms Walker said.
Dr Faruqi, the Greens environment spokesperson, said that across NSW, koalas were facing unprecedented threats.
‘Koala numbers are plummeting and here on the north coast there has been a huge decline over the last 20 years,’ she said.
‘Local communities shouldn’t be forced to choose between recreational facilities and having a local koala population.
‘With creative thinking and resources, Pottsville can have both. We need to find solutions that meet community needs and protect prime koala habitat like this wildlife corridor in Pottsville.
‘It’s time to get serious about koala conservation. We are looking at potential localised extinction of koalas in this area.
‘If Labor and the Nationals want any credibility when it comes to protecting koalas in NSW, they’d get behind the community campaign to revegetate this precious wildlife corridor and find an alternate site for sports users in Pottsville,’ Dr Faruqi said.
At the time of going to press today, both Mr Franklin and Mr Secord failed to respond to requests to comment on the issue.
Responding to enquires from The Echo Natioanls MLC, Ben Franklin said:
‘The Liberal and National Government is committed to coordinating efforts to stabilise and ultimately increase the numbers of koalas.
‘That’s why we’ve started developing a whole-of-government koala strategy, as recommended by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane AC.
‘This strategy will complement the koala conservation work already being done under the NSW Government’s $100 million Saving our Species program.
‘Last year we also committed to investing $10 million over five years to acquire vital koala habitat.’