KOALA habitat preservation and rejuvenation was at the forefront of the Office of Environment and Heritage research scientist workshop on July 24 and 25.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital’s clinical director Cheyne Flanagan was invited to discuss how the government’s $45 million Koala Strategy would be used to reverse koala decline.
The workshop revealed conserving habitat by reducing or stopping logging was a key solution.
“Logging must stop in koala habitats that have been earmarked in forestry,” Ms Flanagan said.
“It would be great if we could get rid of private native forestry because that causes major issues (but) I don't know how that's going to be tackled.
"The old saying of no tree no me is so applicable to a koala. They just can't live anywhere else.”
"This was stage one in what is likely to be a long process, however the right people are making the right moves according to Ms Flanagan.
“From here it's about how the money will be spent and what we will do. It's not a simple solution,” she said.
The old saying of no tree no me is so applicable to a koala. They just can't live anywhere else.Cheyne Flanagan
“We want to find out what koala habitat is really defined as. There are areas we would class as a perfect area for koalas to live but there aren't any in there. Why is that?
“We have some answers, but we need more to understand a range of these issues.”
Government research shows koala populations have declined in NSW by an estimated 26 per cent in the last 20 years.
While there are many questions about how to tackle the problems and no definite answers, Ms Flanagan is confident putting an end to habitat destruction will stop the awful drop in koala numbers.
"At the workshop we were looking at the major issues across NSW that need addressing and the research projects that need to be done for the next 20 years,” she said.
"It’s funny … everyone had to do a survey and every single person that attended nominated habitat loss as the main reason for koala decline.
"Over the last 10 years the decline is obvious. Currently we haven't even hit 60 admissions this year (at the Koala Hospital) and normally we are up to 150 or so by now.
“It shows there are less koalas on the coast. Here on the coast it's all about urban development. They are being pushed out and are eventually hit by cars or attacked by dogs. It's all anthropogenic.”
The key problem, aside from habitat loss, is vehicle strike, which join diseases as the other significant causes of death.
“Some of the strains of disease such as chlamydia come from cattle and pigs so we (humans) are responsible for it all,” Ms Flanagan said.
"I'd implore people to stop cutting down trees. Keep your eucalyptus and plant trees. Keep what we have and restore degraded habitat.
“The more trees we take out the worse the climate will become, so we need to make a change not just for wildlife but for our survival.”