Koala Inquiry call for Koala Rescue Welcomed
MEDIA RELEASE - 20 October 2019
The North East Forest Alliance has welcomed the urgent request by the Legislative Council’s Koala Inquiry to the NSW Premier to allow Koala carers into Braemer, Carwong and Royal Camp State Forests to rescue koalas that have survived the fires.
Though the scale of the problem, and the Government's refusal to do anything to rescue Koalas for the past 12 days. demands Government assistance, according to NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
Extent of Busby's Creek Fire 19 October, with Koala records
"As identified by the inquiry. the fires have burned or dried out most of the leaves the koalas feed on which means that those koalas that did survive the fires need rescuing quickly.
"It has been 12 days since the fires swept through some of the most important Koala habitat in the Richmond catchment and yet the Koalas have been left to their fate.
"The scale of the crisis for Koalas is immense and beyond the capability of volunteer groups to deal with on their own.
"The NSW Government must put its own resources into finding and helping the surviving Koalas.
"We are dealing with a massive wildlife disaster. The Busby's Flat fire has now burnt over 50,000ha, of which 36,000ha is native vegetation.
"The Koala habitat mapping recently released by the Government identifies some 18,000 ha of this as being potentially high quality Koala habitat. Hundreds of Koalas will have been affected by this fire alone.
"Overall, over 280,000 ha (14%) of native vegetation in the Clarence and Richmond catchments has been burnt in the past 2 months, including 175,000ha (18%) of national parks and state forests.
"This includes extensive areas of similarly known important Koala habitat up on the Dorrigo Plateau burnt in the Bees Nest fire.
"Given that wildfires are increasing in intensity due to the conversion of forests to regrowth and climate heating, the onus is on us to mitigate our impacts.
"It is not just Koalas, hundreds of thousands of native animals will have lost their lives or homes, and many more will have been injured.
"To add to Koala's woes, a significant number of Koala feed trees have been burnt out at the base and collapsed. It is essential that the Government places a moratorium on logging burnt Koala habitat to give Koalas a chance to recover, Mr. Pugh said.