A community group is urging people to sign a petition in a bid to save an important swathe of koala habitat in Port Macquarie which has been earmarked for development.
Les Mitchell is a member of the Facebook group Guulago Koala Custodians and described the effort to save 200 hectares of core koala habitat at Lake Innes as "critical".
Members are urging the NSW Government to buy the land to save it from being developed.
Mr Mitchell worked at the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service for nearly 30 years and is also a member of a number of environmental groups.
"My passion for koalas comes from the fact I have been involved in the natural environment and koalas are an integral part of that.
"They are a keystone species because if we can protect koala habitat we can protect a lot of other species too."
Mr Mitchell is the conservation officer for the Hastings Birdwatchers and said koala feeding trees are also vital to the survival of critically endangered birds such as the Regent Honeyeater and Swift Parrot.
"There are many other threatened species which rely on this land too," he said.
"It was unburnt in the 2019 bushfires so this land has become a real refuge for our koalas."
Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams has been advocating on behalf of the local community in an effort to get the state government to buy the land.
Mrs Williams made a plea directly to Minister for the Environment, the Hon Matt Kean requesting the NSW government work urgently to purchase the 200 hectares.
The price of the land is $11 million, which Mr Mitchell argues isn't a big cost for the state government, considering its NSW Koala Strategy includes a $193.3 million commitment towards doubling the number of koalas in the state by 2050.
"Especially given this is such critical habitat," he said.
Koala Hospital president Sue Ashton holds great fears for the future of the koala population in Port Macquarie if development is able to proceed.
"We will lose the urban koala population in Port Macquarie, which is the biggest wild koala population on the east coast of Australia," she said.
For more information, or to sign the petition search for 'protect critical koala habitat in Port Macquarie' via the website change.org
People can also visit the group's Facebook page at Guulago Koala Custodians where members are urging the public to write to Minister for Environment Matt Kean.
Mr Mitchell said the group is also investigating crowdfunding options.
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