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Byron Shire
September 26, 2021

North Coast koala populations in danger from land clearing

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Koala in a tree at Meerschaum Vale (credit: Heather Dunn)

North Coast koala populations have declined by 50 per cent in just 20 years but NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton has signed off on land clearing laws which endanger remaining populations, according to the National Parks Association of NSW.

NPA chief executive Alix Goodwin said the land clearing laws signed off by the minister have put almost all koala habitat on private land at risk.

Ms Goodwin said freedom of information documents showed that Ms Upton knew that less than 1 per cent of koala habitat on private land was protected from clearing under the suite of self-assessable codes, but signed off on them anyway.

‘Koalas need habitat to exist. Full stop. If we risk losing most of the habitat on private land, we must protect remaining koala habitat on public land,’ she said.

‘We have proposed a suite of koala reserve proposals—100% on public land—between Port Stephens and Tweed so that koalas have a fighting chance on the NSW North Coast.

‘The most important of these is the Great Koala National Park (GKNP). This has been identified by Ms Upton’s own Department as containing koala habitats of national significance.

‘Yet logging is occurring right now in Gladstone State Forest, part of the GKNP, and the Minister has done nothing to stop it—despite repeated pleas and in full knowledge that koala populations on the north coast have declined 50 per cent in just 20 years.

‘It has been left to locals to blockade the forest to stand up for koala.

‘We know from polling we did before Christmas that there is overwhelming support for new national parks to protect koalas. Public land must be managed in the public interest, and there is no more important animal for the people of NSW than koalas.

‘We again call on Minister Upton to do what the public wants her to do and create the Great Koala National Park.’

Online survey

Meanwhile, Northern Rivers residents have been reminded that an online survey is being undertaken to gather information about koala populations.

Residents can now record their sightings and thoughts about koalas in the online survey run by The University of Queensland, Southern Cross University and the University of Sydney.

UQ School of Communication and Arts researcher Associate Professor Kelly Fielding
said the study aimed to understand people’s thoughts and experiences of koalas in the region, and gather their opinions on best management of the region for conservation.

The survey, which will take about 20 minutes to complete, can be found at www.northcoastkoala.net.

People completing the survey will go in the prize draw for their choice of a two-day break at The Byron at Byron five-star resort or a 2017 iPad Pro.

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  1. It would be hard to think of a more useless survey that the one being undertaken by the three Universities to ” understand people’s thoughts and experiences of koalas in the region and gather their opinions on best management of the region for conservation.”
    The looming extinction of koalas on the north coast is impossible to ignore. With the destruction of a nationally significant koala population at section 10 of the Ballina Pacific Highway Upgrade, the NSW government’s intention to renew RFA’s for a further 20 years in spite of major evidence of violations, targeting of high koala conservation areas, lack of any legal options under the Biodiversity Conservation Act, the list is endless.
    So what exactly is the UQ School of Communication seeking ? Remembering that the collapse of koala populations in Queensland is a national scandal and ongoing. There’s no need for an expensive survey. The answer is simple. Protect habitat, repeal the Biodiversity Conservation Act and the Local Land Amendment Act. Get rid of the Berejiklian government, the most anti environmental government in recent history.

    • It is an absolute scandal that the Government and most of the public stand by as this iconic native species crashes to extinction!

      Every time there is a choice between development and saving habitat, we know to well that development will be given the stamp of approval. Now West Byron is the local example, with the developers blatantly skirting the need to provide proper data and suggesting they will plant trees that in 20 years may be useful to fauna – they will be long gone!

      Protect remaining habitat or lose the Koala

  2. Minister Upton. I urge you to ensure that a sustainable Koala national park is created in Queensland to protect and preserve the koala population. Deforestation is significantly threatening their natural habitat.

  3. Australia has 1,800 threatened species but has not listed critical habitat in 10 years.

    Only five habitats have been put on critical habitat register since national environmental laws enacted.

    Australia has not listed any critical habitat for the protection of threatened species on the federal critical habitat register for more than a decade.

    And only five places have been registered on the database since Australia’s national environmental laws – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act – were enacted.

    A new Guardian investigation shows that Australia is set to clear 3m hectares of native forest by 2030. Conservationists say the data shows that Australia’s environment laws are failing to protect the habitat necessary for the survival of the more than 1,800 plant and animal species and ecological communities listed as threatened nationally.

    “We have provisions to protect critical habitat under the current laws but they’re not being used effectively and they’re not strong enough,” the Australian Conservation Foundation healthy ecosystems campaigner Jess Abrahams said.


  4. Let’s take all the Koalas ( what’s left ) out of Queensland and put them somewhere else in Australia where they can be protected. Obviously the Queensland government doesn’t care about our native animals so they don’t deserve to have any Koalas in their state. Clearing the bush and killing Koalas means nothing to a greedy government. What a bloody travesty.


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