Act now. or extinction.

The Koala is on the road to extinction unless we act now. 

Unless the Government takes urgent action to protect koala habitat these precious animals will become extinct by 2050. But now, just as the Government begins to take some steps to conserve more koala habitat, the National Party emboldened by their leader John Barilaro, is blackmailing the Berejiklian government and threatening to withdraw support on all government legislation unless they water down planning policy changes that would protect more koala habitat.

Take action now: Tell Premier Gladys Berejiklian to stand strong against the Nats and Save Our Koalas!

The Inquiry found that given the scale of loss to koala populations across New South Wales as a result of the 2019-2020 bushfires the koala will become extinct in NSW before 2050, unless there is urgent government intervention to protect habitat and address all other threats.

Further, that following the 2019-2020 bushfires and the general trend of population decline, the current estimated number of 36,000 koalas in NSW is outdated and unreliable.

Habitat loss & logging

The Inquiry found that the fragmentation and loss of habitat poses the most serious threat to koala populations in New South Wales. Further, the future of koalas in the wild in NSW can’t be guaranteed unless the Government takes stronger action to prevent further loss of koala habitat.

It found that logging in public native forests has had cumulative impacts on koalas over many years because it has reduced the maturity, size and availability of preferred feed and roost trees and that the Government rules out logging in old growth forests. 

The committee recommends that, where appropriate, the NSW Government consider the impacts of logging in forests in the context of enabling koala habitat to be identified and protected by a combination of transferring land to national parks or inclusion in Forest Management Zone 2.

Finally, the committee recommends that the Government establish new plantations on already cleared land of low biodiversity importance to reduce future reliance on native forest logging and investigate the establishment of the Great Koala National Park.

In relation to logging on private land, the committee recommends the Government in its current review of Private Native Forestry require the protection of biodiversity, water and soil in the objects of the Code and for consideration to be given to whether private native forestry plans are consistent with these objects before plans are approved.

The committee also recommends that the Government assesses the interaction between old Private Native Forestry plans and koala plans of management to ensure core koala habitat is protected and provides additional funding to the Environmental Protection Agency to expand its compliance capabilities in the area of private native forestry.

Urban Development, Roads & Mines

The committee recommends that the protection of koala habitat and corridors in the planning and implementation stages of urban growth areas be urgently prioritised. The committee recommends that the NSW Government create a Georges River National Park to provide secure habitat and ensure the protection of the koala colony and habitat on the Figtree Hill site before allowing any further development for the South Western Sydney koala population.

The committee recognises the important role that local councils play in conserving koala habitat, and recommends that the Government fund and support them to identify pockets of urban bushland to include in the State’s protected area network.

The committee found that the current exclusion fence for Appin Road in South Western Sydney is counterproductive and poses a serious danger to koalas and recommended that the NSW Government urgently incorporate an underpass and overpass on Appin Road suitable for koalas and other wildlife with appropriate wildlife corridors at both entrance points.

The committee found that the NSW Government must ensure that the combination of underpasses, overpasses and exclusion fencing along roads is incorporated into both the retrofitting of existing infrastructure and new development in areas of known koala habitat.

Finally, the government must ensure the protection of the koala colony and habitat before allowing any further development at the Shenhua Watermark mine site.

Climate Change, Drought & Bushfires

The committee found that climate change is having a severe impact on koala populations by affecting the quality of their food and habitat and compounding the severity and impact of other threats, such as drought and bushfires.

The committee recommends that the NSW Government factor in climate change as a key consideration in the drafting of all relevant legislation and planning strategies and ensure climate change mitigation is a core component of all strategies to save the koala in New South Wales.

There has been a substantial loss of both suitable koala habitat and koalas across NSW as a result of the 2019-2020 bushfires. The restoration and replenishment of koala habitat lost to bushfire in national parks must be urgently prioritised by the Government with a plan publicly released as to how they will achieve this.

The committee recommends that the Government urgently investigates the utilisation of core koala habitat on private land and in State forests to replenish koala habitat lost in the bushfires.

The committee recommends that the Government support the establishment of a well-resourced network of wildlife hospitals in key areas of the state, including the North Coast, North-West, Blue Mountains, South West Sydney, Southern Tablelands and South Coast, staffed by suitably qualified personnel and veterinarians, including funding where appropriate.

Weak Laws & Strategies

The committee found that protecting koala habitat is hampered by the inconsistencies and disconnection between the different planning instruments within the NSW planning system, and there is an urgent need to address this.

The committee recommends that the Government urgently approve comprehensive koala plans of management previously submitted to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. And that, in finalising the State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019 framework, strengthen the ability of consent authorities to protect koala habitat.

The committee recommends that the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme be overhauled and strengthened to protect koala habitat including prohibiting the ability to offset high quality koala habitat, restricting the ability for koala habitat to be offset anywhere across the state and removing the ability of mining companies to delay offsets until project completion.

The committee found that the NSW Koala Strategy falls short of the NSW Chief Scientist’s recommendation of a whole-of-government koala strategy with the objective of stabilising and then increasing koala numbers and that it fails to prioritise and resource the urgent need to protect koala habitat across all tenures.

Incentives to Protect Koala Habitat

The committee recommends that the government provide additional funding and support to community groups, so that they can plant trees and regenerate bushland along koala and wildlife corridors and explore mechanisms to protect these corridors in-perpetuity. 

The committee recommends that the Government increase incentives available to private landholders under the Conservation Partners Program and work with willing landholders to identify koala habitat that is of outstanding biodiversity value in order for more koala habitat on private land being protected.

Recognising that koala habitat on private land continues to be cleared under weakened laws, the committee recommends the Government reinstate legal thresholds so that native vegetation of high conservation value on private land is protected. Further, the Government must review the impact on koala habitat of the application of regulated land and self-assessment frameworks under the existing land clearing laws.