Surveys conducted for the North Coast Environment Council show overwhelming support for measures to protect koalas in the electorates of Lismore and Ballina.
NCEC spokesperson Susie Russell said the council commissioned two ReachTEL polls which showed that seventy per cent of people surveyed supported the creation of new national parks to protect koalas from logging and land-clearing.
‘People across the north coast are extremely concerned about the plight of the koala,’ Ms Russell said
‘Almost 90 per cent of participants in the polling had some awareness of the plight of the koala, with about 50 per cent being very aware.’
Ms Russell said people understood that if the region’s koala were to be saved there needed to be greater protection for the forests in which they live.
‘ It’s not hard to understand, we can’t keep logging and clearing koala habitat and expect koalas to thrive,’ she said.
‘With the State Government poised to release its State-wide Koala Strategy, this is a timely reminder, that unless existing koala populations across all tenures including public State Forests are given protection, this animal will continue its trajectory towards extinction.
Ms Russell said analysis by the North East Forest Alliance earlier this year showed that in the last decade, 24,000 thousand hectares of high quality koala habitat has been cleared as the result of intensive logging, much of it carried out under the supervision of the State Government’s own logging company the Forestry Corporation.
‘Any Koala Strategy which solely focuses on private land purchases and fails to address the massive habitat destruction on public land will be a failure before the ink is dry,’ she said.
‘The NSW Chief Scientist’s Report on Koalas made it clear that their should be “…clear benefit to key koala populations in NSW… [and by] identifying and protecting koala habitat and managing key threats, this strategy will also benefit other native species and NSW landscapes more broadly”.’
‘As temperatures rise across the country and place our native wildlife and forests under even more stress, we need serious and drastic action to address our biodiversity crisis, as more and more animals and plants are threatened with extinction.
‘The main response of the State Government seems to be trying to stop the threat level being examined.
‘The koala is our canary in the coal mine. Unless we can turn the fortune of this placid and iconic animal around, it will be one of many that disappear from the wild.
‘Clearly, this polling suggests that there is significant support for genuine action. It’s now up to the NSW Government to show it is listening.’