NSW Koala Strategy fails Koalas

MEDIA RELEASE 9 April 2022

The NSW Government’s Koala Strategy released today will do little to turn around their extinction trajectory as it is not stopping logging and clearing of Koala habitat which, along with climate heating, are the main drivers of their demise.

“The Strategy proposes nothing to redress the logging of Koala habitat on public lands where at best 5-10 small potential Koala feed trees per hectare need to be protected in core Koala habitat, with the only other requirement being to wait for a Koala to leave before cutting down its tree” NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.

“We know that Koalas preferentially choose larger individuals of a limited variety of tree species for feeding, and losses of these trees will reduce populations. So protecting and restoring feed and roost trees is a prerequisite for allowing populations to grow on public lands.

“The most important and extensive Koala habitat we know of in NSW is in the proposed Great Koala National Park, encompassing 175,000 hectares of State Forests south of Grafton and west of Coffs Harbour.

“Similarly on the Richmond River lowlands the most important and extensive area known is the proposed Sandy Creek Koala Park, encompassing 7,000 ha of State Forests south of Casino.

“These are public lands that we know are important Koala habitat that need to be protected from further degradation if we want to recover Koala populations. There are many other areas of important Koala habitat on State forests in need of identification and protection from logging.

“The centrepiece of the NSW Koala Strategy is to spend $71 million on private lands, buying properties and implementing conservation agreements over up to 22,000 hectares.

“This will not compensate for the Liberal’s promises to the Nationals, as peace terms in the 2020 Koala Wars, to remove the requirement to obtain permission before clearing core Koala habitat, to end the prohibition on logging core Koala habitat, to open up all environmental zones for logging, and to stop core Koala habitat being added to environmental zones.

“Throwing money at piecemeal protection of private land, while allowing some of the best Koala habitat to be cleared and logged will not save Koalas

“Similarly their strategy to spend $31.5 million to restore and plant new Koala habitat could help, but only if they first stopped clearing and logging existing Koala habitat.

“Rather than the proposed piecemeal approach, what we need for private lands is for the Government to fund Councils to prepare Comprehensive Koala Plans of Management that identify where the core Koala habitat and important linkages are, and then to direct funding to best protecting those lands.

“The NSW Koala Strategy is set to fail because it does not fulfill the most fundamental requirement of stopping existing Koala habitat from being cleared and degraded, and lacks a strategic approach to identify the highest priority lands for protection and revegetation” Mr. Pugh said.

Koala strategy:  https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/threatened-species/programs-legislation-and-framework/nsw-koala-strategy

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