19 June 2017

$800k koala funding does not compensate for weak tree-clearing laws and unsustainable forestry  

The Nature Conservation Council has warned koalas are on a path to extinction in NSW unless the Berejiklian government tightens environment controls on tree-clearing and ends logging of the species habitat.

The government announced today it would allocate another $800,000 in this week’s budget for koala conservation projects and research.

“We always welcome more money for conservation, but this will make little difference to the fate of the species unless the government acts quickly to stop the destruction of the koala’s forests and woodlands,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said.

“Koala numbers have plummeted 26% in NSW over the past 20 years, [1] and 80% in the Pilliga forest, an area that used to be a stronghold for the species. [2]

“Habitat loss from land clearing and forestry are the key threats to the koala’s survival, yet the Coalition is weakening environmental controls on these activities. It doesn’t make sense.

“If this does not change, the government’s policy settings will drive the koala’s extinction. Today’s announcement is simply window dressing.” 

Ms Smolski said to protect the species, the Berejiklian must:

  • End logging of public native forests and not renew the Regional Forest Agreements.
  • End the clearing of koala habitat on farmland by implementing effective tree-clearing controls.
  • Declare the Great Koala Park on the North Coast to ensure the best remaining habitat is managed for koala conservation, not for logging.
  • Rapidly reduce the state’s carbon emissions by transitioning from coal-fired power to renewables by 2030. (Rising temperatures is making it too hot for koalas in many inland areas, and rising sea levels will flood and kill coastal forest habitats.) [3]

References

[1] Adams-Hosking, C., McBride, M.F., Baxter, G., Burgman, M., de Villiers, D., Kavanagh, R., Lawler, I., Lunney, D., Melzer, A., Menkhorst, P., Molsher, R., Moore, B.D., Phalen, D., Rhodes, J.R., Todd, C., Whisson, D. and McAlpine, C.A, (2016) Use of expert knowledge to elicit population trends for the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) Diversity and Distributions 22, 249–262.

[2] NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer (2016) Report of the Independent Review into the Decline of Koala Populations in Key Areas of NSW, New South Wales Government.

[3] WWF (2017) The current status of the koala in Queensland and New South Wales. http://www.wwf.org.au/what-we-do/species/koala#gs.VbiTGbk

Tags

Forests and wildlifeClimate and energy

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