The Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) chief executive officer has labelled the NSW Koala Strategy implemented by the NSW state government as a ‘smoke screen’.
Deborah Tabart said the government has developed the strategy to make it appear that it cares about the declining koala population but in reality it’s all to benefit industry.
The ceo said the strategy is being used to cover up recent changes by the government on land clearing which have critically reduced protections for koalas in NSW.
“Laws to protect koalas and koala habitats are being weakened to pave the way for more and more development,” she said.
The Port Macquarie community were invited to a NSW Koala Strategy information session at the Port Macquarie Historic Courthouse on February 9.
Sessions are also being run in seven other locations in New South Wales.
NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the sessions were aimed to provide an opportunity for people to share their knowledge about the local koala population and provide feedback on how to address declining koala numbers.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage director of policy Steve Hartley said the NSW Koala Strategy is a whole government approach and it takes into account that there are a variety of threats contributing to the decline of the koala population.
He said it is important therefore to consult with people on a national, state and regional basis.
The AKF staff members have questioned why it was not consulted to produce the recommendations for the Koala Strategy.
Ms Tabart sent a letter to Minister Upton on February 3 expressing her concerns.
In the letter she states it is hard for her to accept any potential outcome resulting from the strategy as the NSW government does not have the necessary data to produce mapping.
She said habitat mapping is the only way to lead to feasible outcomes that can protect koala habitat.
“Land clearing in NSW has to stop and the only way to do that fairly is to have good maps,” she said.
She said a Koala Recovery Plan should have been finalised in 2014 by the federal government.
Ms Tabart said in the near future the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie will have no more patients.
She said unfortunately the system exploits the people who work tirelessly to care for injured koalas.
Ms Tabart said the people who really do care about the future of the koala population are fighting a losing battle.
The AKF has addressed a number of concerns with the recommendations of the Koala Strategy with the NSW Environment Minister.