1 March 2019

Destruction of koala habitat now widespread in NSW


Destruction of koala habitat has nearly doubled across three regions of NSW since the axing of the state’s Native Vegetation Act in August 2017, a new report has shown.

A study by WWF-Australia and Nature Conservation Council found more than 3,000 ha of koala habitat was destroyed in the Central West, Hunter and North West regions in the 12 months following the repeal of strong deforestation controls. 


  • Bulldozing of native bushland nearly doubled in North West, Central West and Hunter regions in 2017-18.
  • Deforestation rates increased 2.5x in the Central West, 2.3x in the Hunter Region and 1.6x in the North West.
  • 3,079 ha of koala habitat was bulldozed in these regions in 2017-18, almost double the 1,600 ha destroyed in 2016-17. 

Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said: “The NSW Government is responsible for opening the floodgates to the destruction of koala forests and woodlands on a scale we have not seen for more than 20 years.

“More than 61 football fields of koala forest were wiped off the map every week in these regions. We could only guess the total losses across the whole of the state.

“This report confirms the devastating spike in deforestation we detected in the Collarenebri-Moree region last year was just the tip of the iceberg and is now widespread. The NSW Government must ban the clearing of koala habitat and other sensitive natural areas as a matter of urgency.”

WWF-Australia conservationist Stuart Blanch said: “The destruction of koala habitat is accelerating in NSW, where there are likely less than 20,000 koalas left in the wild.

“At the current rate, they are on track to be extinct in the state by as early as 2050.  We have to stop this excessive tree-clearing if we want to keep koalas alive in the wild for future generations.

“The clearing destroyed habitat for 71 threatened species, including koalas. The forests that were bulldozed meant there are now fewer trees to make rain, cool the weather and store carbon.

“We are calling in on the NSW Government to urgently strengthen the laws to ensure koalas and other threatened native animals are given the protections they need.”


New South Wales Deforestation Data Analysis: Three Case Studies 2016-2018, (2019) WWF-Australia and NSW Nature Conservation Council.

Bulldozing of bushland nearly trebles around Moree and Collarenebri after safeguards repealed in NSW, (2018) WWF-Australia and NSW Nature Conservation Council.

What can Australians do to help protect koalas?

WWF-Australia and the Nature Conservation Council have launched petitions calling all parties to take action to protect koalas in NSW for future generations.

WWF-Australia: www.wwf.org.au/savekoalas

NCC: www.nature.org.au/savekoalas


Forests and wildlife

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