Images of injured, dead and dying koalas from last summer’s apocalyptic fires, can’t be unseen. Are we doing enough to protect what is left of this dwindling species?
A report from the NSW Upper House Inquiry into the State’s Koala Populations and their Habitat, released today after a year-long Inquiry, must be a gamechanger for the government to protect more koala habitat if they don’t want to see the koala become extinct before 2050, says Committee Chair and Greens MP Cate Faehrmann.
‘This report must be a gamechanger for koalas and the protection of their habitat in NSW. What became crystal clear during this Inquiry was that without urgent government intervention the koala will become extinct in NSW before 2050,’ said Ms Faehrmann.
Habitat loss and fragmentation the biggest threat
‘The report found that habitat loss and fragmentation was the biggest threat to koalas, yet at every turn we were handed evidence that showed our current laws are inadequate and facilitating the clearing of core koala habitat.
‘The strategies and policies currently in place to protect the koala aren’t working, like the NSW Koala Strategy which fails in ensuring enough koala habitat is protected for the different koala populations across the state.
‘There must be a significant increase in koala habitat protected from logging, mining, land clearing and urban development. The government needs to incentivise farmers so they’re paid more to protect trees on their land instead of clearing them and overhaul the failed biodiversity offsetting scheme which allows core koala habitat to be cleared.
‘There are two proposed new national parks put forward by the committee for the government to investigate to protect some koala populations from immediate threats. They are the Georges River National Park in Sydney’s South West and the Great Koala National Park on the mid-north coast.
‘Climate change, which exacerbated the drought and the recent devastating bushfires is a significant threat to koalas. The committee recommends that the Government factor in climate change as a key consideration in the drafting of all relevant legislation and planning strategies and ensure climate change mitigation is a core component of all strategies to save the koala in New South Wales.
‘It was heartening to have members from all sides of politics working together on a shared mission to come up with recommendations that would go to the government in order to save the koala in NSW. Bar a couple of findings that were particularly critical of the government’s koala strategy, I see this as a consensus report for the government to urgently act upon,’ said Ms Faehrmann.
North Coast & Mid North Coast
‘This report has demonstrated beyond doubt that decades of logging in public native forests has had a devastating impact on koalas and their habitat.
‘The government must immediately identify and protect koala populations and habitat in the wake of this apocalyptic bushfire season.
‘The committee has proposed that the government investigate the establishment of the Great Koala National Park. I urge the government to do this without delay. The committee heard compelling evidence that the park would protect large areas of core koala habitat while creating a globally significant tourist attraction.’
North west NSW
‘The committee recommends that the government ensures the protection of the koala colony and habitat on the proposed Shenhua Water coal mine site before allowing any further development at the Shenhua Watermark. I heard enough evidence to suggest that the project is incompatible with the future existence of the local koala population.
‘Shenhua’s proposed translocation of the koala population is also an absurd idea which the method found to be unproven by the committee. The committee also called for an overhaul of biodiversity offsetting which has seen coal mine projects able to clear core koala habitat by “offsetting” this loss with supposed koala habitat in other parts of the state’.