The koala population is vanishing and at the end of the month scientists, conservationists and wildlife carers will gather at Coffs Harbour to highlight the extinction risk facing koalas in NSW and policy solutions to protect koalas and their habitat.
The conference, the brainchild of former Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack, aims to elevate the issue of koala conservation in the lead up to the next NSW state election in March 2023.
Ms Cusack says that as a former MP who served in opposition and government, she saw up close how our political process is failing koalas. ‘I crossed the floor twice in Parliament — both incidents concerned koala protection. I came to realise that individual politicians speaking out is insufficient — collective action by citizens is their last line of defence.’
A focus on loss of koala habitat
The full-day conference will focus on the loss of koala habitat, with presentations covering science and policy, as well as the experiences of local communities. Participants will learn about the inadequacies of the current NSW Government policy and what is needed to turn around the loss of koala habitat.
Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea provided. Evening drinks will be held after the conference and a conference dinner hosted by North Coast Environment Council. (Please select the dinner add-on option with your ticket.)
Speakers on the day include:
• Dr Steve Philips, Principal Research Associate, Biolink Ecological Consultants.
• Dr Kara Youngentob, Research Fellow, College of Science, Australian National University.
• Professor Mark Krockenburger, University of Sydney Koala Hub, (disease).
• Dailan Pugh, North East Forests Alliance (NEFA).
• Gary Dunnett, CEO, NSW National Parks Association.
• Dr Stuart Blanch, Senior Manager (Land Clearing and Restoration), WWF-Australia.
• Cerin Loane, Senior Solicitor, Environmental Defenders Office.
• Sally Townley, Deputy Mayor, Coffs Harbour.
• Catherine Cusack, Liberal MLC, 2003-2022
• Justin Field, Independent MLC, 2016-present
• Penny Sharpe, NSW Shadow Environment Minister.
• Cate Faehrmann, Greens MLC.
• Micklo Jarret, Gumbaynggirr man and Head Aboriginal Language and Culture Trainer for the Gumbaynggirr Language and Culture Nest
Significant media coverage
While Ms Cusack agrees that there has been significant media coverage of the decline of koala, it’s are just nice words and lots of sympathy. ‘We are yet to see a credible rescue plan from the major parties who will form Government after the March 2023 election.
‘Our iconic koala populations are vanishing from the Australian landscape. Now is the time to insist koalas are a priority. In the lead-up to the NSW state election in March, it’s more important than ever for us to make our voices heard.’
The conference will be held at The Cavanbah Centre, Coffs Harbour 9am-5pm, Saturday, October 29.
To coincide with the conference, the National Parks Association is organising a meet-and-greet event on Friday and a Koala Family Picnic from 12-3pm on Sunday at the North Coast Regional Botanical Garden – all welcome!
You can sign the Save Sydney’s Koalas e-petition in the NSW Parliament. This needs 20,000 signatures before it can be debated in the Parliament.