The NSW Government is hoping that a record cash splash will prevent the koala’s crash course to extinction by doubling the state population of the endangered Australian icon by 2050.
“This $193.3 million NSW Koala Strategy is the biggest financial commitment by any government to secure the future of koalas in the wild,” Environment Minister James Griffin said.
“We know there are multiple threats to koalas, including loss and fragmentation of their habitat, compounded by the impact of the devastating 2019–20 bushfires, as well as vehicle strike and dog attack,” Mr Griffin said.
The Strategy’s 5-year plan focuses on conservation actions under 4 themes:
- $107.1 million for koala habitat conservation, to fund the protection, restoration, and improved management of 47,000 hectares of koala habitat
- $19.6 million to supporting local communities to conserve koalas
- $23.2 million for improving the safety and health of koalas by removing threats, improving health and rehabilitation, and establishing a translocation program
- $43.4 million to support science and research to build our knowledge of koalas.
The NSW Opposition has welcomed the overdue NSW Koala Strategy but has warned that koalas cannot be saved if the current laws, policies and planning rules fail to protect endangered koalas.
“Labor welcomes this investment in the future of NSW koalas but we remain concerned that this target cannot be met without a change to other policies across government.” Shadow Minister for the Environment, Penny Sharpe said.
Campbelltown boasts of one of the only disease-free koala colonies in NSW and State Member Greg Warren said that while the overdue Koala Strategy is welcome, what the residents of Campbelltown need and deserve is genuine action rather than lip service.
“This can only be achieved with a policy framework that will see the actual realisation of these targets,” Mr Warren said.
Labor has warned that koala numbers cannot be doubled if:
- The NSW Government fails to apply clear rules through the planning system that protect key koala corridors and ensure there are safe road crossings before development occurs.
- The changes to land clearing laws that have seen a 300% increase in land clearing are allowed to continue in their current form.
- The stalled private native forestry code waters down protections for koala habitat on private land.
- The political bickering over the Koala State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) continues.
- The NSW Government continues to ignore the Natural Resources Commission Report that sets out key actions to save and restore severely burned forests after the Black Summer bushfires.
- The NSW Government refuses to legislate net zero greenhouse gas emissions targets.
“The NSW Koala Strategy is doomed to failure unless a true whole of government approach is committed to and delivered by each and every Minister with oversight on the policies and laws that impact on koalas,” Ms Sharpe said.
Photo: State Member for Campbelltown Greg Warren with Shadow Minister for the Environment, Penny Sharpe