Labor’s Great Koala National Park shows vision

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The Nature Conservation Council of NSW has welcomed state Labor’s promise to create a 315,000-hectare Great Koala National Park on the NSW north coast [1], and has urged the Coalition to support the proposal.

“This is a strong commitment by a new Labor leader intent on making the environment an election issue this March,” said NCC CEO Kate Smolski. “By supporting the NSW environment movement’s proposal for a major koala reserve, Luke Foley has shown he is prepared to act boldly to prevent the extinction of this iconic species.”

Several recent events have highlighted the threats and demonstrated the need for urgent action:

  • The number of koalas on the east coast of Australia plummeted by more than 40 per cent between 1990 and 2010, the equivalent of only three koala generations. [1]
  • In 2012, the Federal Government listed the NSW, Queensland and ACT populations as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. [2]
  • Survey’s conducted by ecologists in 2013 in the massive Pilliga forest in the state’s northwest, an area once considered a stronghold for the species, found the population had crashed by 75 per cent in 10 years. That koala population is now considered “highly endangered”. [3] 

“It is quite clear that if these trends continue and dramatic action is not taken to protect and connect habitat remnants, koalas will become extinct in the wild in NSW, possibly in our lifetime,” Ms Smolski said.

“We must do everything we can to ensure this does not happen. Given the koala’s status as a national icon, we hope that all political parties will support the koala national park proposal.”

The Great Koala National Park, which is one of the environment movement’s key policy priorities for the 2015 state election [4], would comprise 315,000 hectares of public land in the Coffs Harbour region and would be created by adding 175,000 hectares of state forest to 140,000 hectares of existing conservation reserves. The park would protect up to 4,550 individuals, about 20 per cent of koalas in the state.

Originally published as: Labor’s Great Koala National Park shows vision

 

REFERENCES

[1] 'We have to act': Luke Foley promises Australia's first koala national park on NSW north coast,  www.smh.com.au/nsw/we-have-to-act-luke-foley-promises-australias-first-koala-national-park-on-nsw-north-coast-20150118-12slku.html

[1] Koala populations in NSW and Queensland fell 42% from 326,400 to 188,000 (a loss of 138,400 individuals) in the 20 years from 1990 to 2010. On current trends, koalas will be extinct in the wild in NSW by 2030. Habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation, predation (dogs and vehicle strike), disease, drought, climate change, and inbreeding are keys threats. www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=85104#population_information

[2] Could there be as few as 50 Koalas left in the Pilliga? http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2014/12/15/4148934.htm

[3] Koala populations in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory and national environment law, www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/factsheet-koala-populations-queensland-nsw-act-national

[4] Our Environment, Our Future - Policies for the 2015 NSW Election and Beyond www.nature.org.auelectionpolicies2015