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Byron Shire
December 2, 2021

Lismore among NSW’s 20 ‘deforestation hotspots’

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Top 20 clearing hotspots in NSW, 2009 to 2014. Clearing hotspots (orange) detected using Sentinel-2 satellite images and NSW SLATS data. Forest and woodland (green) based on National Carbon Accounting System 2009.

Seventeen of the state’s 20 ‘deforestation hotspots’, including the Lismore region, contain koala habitat at risk of land clearing under new state environmental laws.

The shocking revelation is contained in a report released today by the NSW Nature Conservation Council, WWF-Australia, The Wilderness Society and National Parks Association of NSW.

Deforestation is worst in the state’s central west and northwest, with pockets of excessive land clearing on the North Coast, in the Hunter Valley and in the state’s southwest.

Overlaying the hotspots with Federal Environment Department maps of koala habitat, where koalas are known or likely to occur, revealed that 17 of the 20 deforestation hotspots contained ‘substantial areas of koala habitat’ adding up to almost 7 million hectares.

The Lismore region has made it into the unwanted ‘top 20’ list.

Of the ‘top 20’ deforestation hotspots in NSW, 17 have significant koala populations.

‘Our research shows deforestation is worst in areas with some of the most vulnerable koala populations left in NSW,’ Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said.

‘High rates of deforestation in areas with koala habitat is a major risk for this iconic species, especially west of the Great Dividing Range where the deadly effects of climate change on koala populations is most acute.

Catastrophic decline

‘Without a dramatic change, koalas and other species that rely on forests and woodlands for their survival will continue their catastrophic decline.’

WWF-Australia conservation scientist Dr Martin Taylor said that most people in NSW don’t realise that it is ‘easy and legal to destroy koala habitats’.

‘In just one of these deforestation hotspots, more than 5,000 hectares of koala habitat were bulldozed in 12 just months.

‘Laws must be changed to stop the industrial-scale deforestation that is taking place throughout NSW. If we do this, we could prevent the extinction of koalas in NSW by as early as 2050.’

The Wilderness Society National Director Lyndon Schneider said the koala is facing ‘an extinction epidemic’ in NSW, ‘with some estimates saying this iconic animal could be extinct in the state by 2050’.

‘A third of the koala population has been wiped out in NSW in just 20 years, while the North Coast koala population has been slashed in half,’ Dr Taylor said

What the NSW Government must do

To address the koala population crisis, we are calling on the NSW Government to:

  • Ban clearing of koala habitat on all land tenures
  • Create wildlife corridors to let koalas move between remnant of habitat
  • Finalise and release koala habitat mapping at state, regional and local scales.

What all Australians can do

WWF-Australia and the Nature Conservation Council have launched petitions today to call on both sides of government to take action to protect koalas in NSW for future generations.

WWF-Australia: www.wwf.org.au/savekoalas

Nature Conservation Council: www.nature.org.au/savekoalas


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  1. Meanwhile as the suburbanization of Mullumbimby progresses (Tallowwood Estate), mature koala food trees are cut down (ironically Tallowwood trees).

  2. Try the North Lismore Plateau development another 120 Red Gums about to be cut down,sorry bulldozed.

    Not even a Koala Management Plan,

    As for the Liusmore City Council they are borrowing 32 million dollars to prop up the infrastructure obo
    the developer,

    And dont start about the Wardell/Broadwater Highway bypass North Coast Koala slaughter central

  3. We will come very close to losing wild Koalas in the next years at this rate.
    Shame on the LNP Berejiklian Government and bureaucrats in general!
    Madness, as clearing also costs us by desertification and increased heat for local communities.


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