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Byron Shire
May 9, 2021

Koalas destined for extinction – unless we do something

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Lismore’s Friends of the Koala (FoK) says it’s not too late to prevent koalas going extinct in the wild on the North Coast – but our window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

Australia has one of the world’s worst records of modern extinction (54 species) and longest lists of threatened species (909).

And with koalas listed as vulnerable to extinction, FoK says it is human actions that ‘perpetuate this shameful situation’ and human actions that can halt it.

The registered volunteer group, which is arguably rescuing more koalas than any other in NSW, warns that ‘koalas will disappear from this part of the world unless behaviours change’.

Group president Dr Ros Irwin is calling one a community effort to ‘help us prevent a local extinction’.

Dr Steve Phillips, one of Australia’s leading Wildlife Ecologists who has studied koala populations extensively, said vulnerability ‘usually precedes the inexorable slide towards endangerment and the chance of a localised extinction event, the rate of which is only determined by society’s willingness to intervene and demand the necessary change.

Plummeting populations

Habitat loss is a core driver of the koala’s march to extinction. In north east NSW, koala populations have declined by approximately 50 per cent due to residential, commercial and infrastructure development.

‘Look at the enormous development planned for West Byron,’ Dr Irwin said.

‘They’re talking about a huge increase in Byron Bay’s population with a development facilitated by legal amendments to prevailing land-use planning on primary koala habitat. That’s happening in a coastal strip which is home to a dwindling population of less than 240 koalas. Going ahead with this development will support an ongoing litany of habitat clearing and fragmentation that’s slowly driving koalas to extinction.’

Other coastal estimated populations under pressure include Tweed’s now less than 100 koalas and Ballina’s 285-380.

Even Lismore’s estimated population of around 1,800 is following suit.

Every tree counts,’ according to Dr Phillips.

‘With 0.34 koalas per hectare, south-east Lismore has the highest density of koalas we’ve recorded anywhere on the far north NSW coast, and a very high occupancy of up to 70 per cent of available habitat.

‘This suggests habitat is at peak carrying capacity. The majority of koala habitat is on private land, reinforcing the importance of land owners to koala survival.

‘Maintaining habitat connectivity across the landscape is crucial for sustaining healthy, genetically diverse populations,’ says Dr Phillips.

Friends of the Koala is urging people to act.

What you can do

‘We’re asking people to help us prevent a local koala extinction by taking some of the ten actions on our Action List, and asking friends and family to do the same,’ Dr Irwin said.

Some of the actions people can take include:

  • sharing our koala’s plight with others,
  • protecting habitat and opposing destruction,
  • writing to politicians,
  • planting koala food trees,
  • maintaining a careful vigil for koalas especially on the roads, and
  • containing dogs.

FoK 24 Hr Rescue Hotline: 6622 1233


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4 COMMENTS

  1. This is great, we’ve printed the list and laminated it. We couldn’t work out why Council is putting what looked a bit like “cattle grids” on roads where no cattle wander, but stopped briefly yesterday in Brunswick Heads to ask a worker there, and when he told us it was part of a koala protection plan, we were so relieved to hear that something is being done. Sometimes we go for a walk along The Pocket Rd., and one day last year we found a dead koala by the side of the road, near Red Hill. It was a very sad moment in an otherwise beautiful environment. Now we have a phone number to call, thanks!

  2. once again I am appalled at this situation of the government letting prime land go for housing and industry taking Koala’s territory and not giving a dam about it, not encouraging people to plant more trees for the Koala’ s. the children of tomorrow will only have photos of them.

  3. This and every other problem on our planet is caused by Human population growth, it is out of control and we have now reached plague proportions and we are pushing every other creature on this Planet to extinction, if it was any other animal, we would be culling them by the millions.
    With life expectancy now in the eighty years and more, three generations are on this planet before the first generation passes(goggle world population growth).
    We are heading for total disaster, there is no Plan’et B.
    PLEASE THINK before you breed other wise Agenda 21 will be a reality.

  4. Last week feral and domestic dogs ran rampage through Huonbrook and Wanganui. Last count 6 free range hens dead here, a heron found nearby another dwelling and unseen others reported by other land guardians.

    What chance do koalas have? When new comers come into our diminishing habitat valleys and neighbours approach them re barking or roaming dogs, they are told to mind their own business. After massacres occur, like happened last week, it is too late.

    Koalas have also been filmed comfortably eating camphor leaves. Hectares of camphor are being poisoned as we speak through out the Shire.

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