The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) say that the recently released Commonwealth Government Draft Koala Recovery Plan is doomed to fail as it’s a plan that doesn’t save the trees where the koalas are living.
NEFA spokesperson Susie Russell says that plan is a complete dud. ‘The Plan doesn’t propose to stop the broadscale land-clearing that is wiping out Koala habitat. It doesn’t stop the bulldozers from clearing koala colonies for development. It doesn’t stop the logging of Koala homes.
Ms Russell says it just more years of words, reports, monitoring and feel-good funding will not halt the decline of our remaining Koala populations. ‘We already know that many were wiped out during the Black Summer bushfires in 2019/20. Continuing to take their trees while studying them is a crime against the future.
Plan objective is lofty
Ms Russell says the Plan objective is lofty. ‘The goal of the recovery plan is to reverse the trend of decline in population size of the listed Koala, by having resilient, connected, and genetically healthy meta-populations across its range, and to increase the extent, quality and connectivity of habitat occupied.
‘But all the “research, mapping, monitoring, data collation and analysis, information dissemination, and community capacity building” in the world won’t save the koala from extinction unless its habitat is protected.
‘The Recovery Plan briefly mentions the need to “increase the area of protected priority Koala habitat to prevent further habitat loss and fragmentation, and to maintain population viability”. This is code for purchasing blocks of land with koala habitat. This will in no way halt further habitat loss and fragmentation, except perhaps on those particular blocks.
Money could buy out the logging industry
Ms Russell says the NSW Government has set aside money to buy blocks of land that have koala habitat. ‘That money could buy out the logging industry from hundreds of thousands of hectares of already publicly owned land, including land identified as home to two of the most significant meta-populations of koalas on the north coast of NSW.
‘That land was identified years ago and The Great Koala National Park was proposed on that basis. Instead of protecting those known populations, both the NSW and Commonwealth Governments continue to oversee the destruction of their homes by the truckload.
Plan that doesn’t protect the places where koalas live is a sham
‘It’s time to get real. Any Strategy or Recovery Plan that doesn’t protect the places where koalas are actually living is a sham.
Ms Russell says the climate and biodiversity crises demand that our governments stop pussy-footing around and take real and genuine action now to stop the destruction. ‘The Plan needs to go back to the drawing board until it comes back with concrete measures to stop the logging and land clearing in koala habitat.’