Letter: Plight of koalas a concern

The creation of new National Parks to protect koalas from logging and land-clearing received 70% (7 in 10 people) support according to results in two ReachTEL polls commissioned by the North Coast Environment Council and others, in each of the State electorates of Lismore and Ballina.

People across the north coast are extremely concerned about the plight of the koala.

Almost 90% of participants in the polling had some awareness of the plight of the koala, with about 50% being very aware.

They also understand what this Government appears not to: that if we want to save the koala and stop its populations declining, we need to protect the forests where the koalas live. It’s not hard to understand, we can’t keep logging and clearing koala habitat and expect koalas to thrive.

With the State Government poised to release its State-wide Koala Strategy, this is a timely reminder, that unless existing koala populations across all tenures including public State Forests are given protection, this animal will continue its trajectory towards extinction.

Earlier this year, analysis by the North East Forest Alliance showed that in the last decade, 24,000 thousand hectares of high quality koala habitat has been cleared as the result of intensive logging, much of it carried out under the supervision of the State Government’s own logging company the Forestry Corporation.

Any Koala Strategy which solely focuses on private land purchases and fails to address the massive habitat destruction on public land will be a failure before the ink is dry. The NSW Chief Scientist’s Report on Koalas made it clear that their should be “...clear benefit to key koala populations in NSW... [and by] identifying and protecting koala habitat and managing key threats, this strategy will also benefit other native species and NSW landscapes more broadly.”

As temperatures rise across the country and place our native wildlife and forests under even more stress, we need serious and drastic action to address our biodiversity crisis, as more and more animals and plants are threatened with extinction. The main response of the State Government seems to be trying to stop the threat level being examined.

The koala is our canary in the coal mine. Unless we can turn the fortune of this placid and iconic animal around, it will be one of many that disappear from the wild. Clearly, this polling suggests that there is significant support for genuine action. It’s now up to the NSW Government to show it is listening.

Susie Russell

North Coast Environment Council


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