The New South Wales government has purchased 400 hectares of private land in the Southern Highlands to establish a koala habitat reserve.
The land is located on the Wollondilly River south-west of Moss Vale.
The Member for Goulburn, Pru Goward, said it was the first government purchase under a new scheme to protect koala habitat and was designed to prevent a further slide in koala populations.
We have certainly seen a decline in some places, a catastrophic decline in koala numbers in our region in the Southern Highlands there’s about a thousand.”
Ms Goward said the land was purchased using part of a $10 million fund sourced from NSW Environmental Trust.
“It was an incredibly lucky buy because what it does is it now gives us a highway from the Blue Mountains through to the Morton National Park for koalas to traverse, so that if there’s bushfires, there’s a catastrophic event in one part they can move to another.”
Koala corridors act as refuge during natural disasters
Minister for the Environment Gabrielle Upton said the land was suitable as it contained the tree species most favoured as a food source.
“By purchasing this land for the national parks system we are expanding koala habitat,” she said.
Wingecarribee Council officer Joe Stammers helps run the Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project.
He said the area had the largest population of koalas in southern New South Wales and welcomed any measures to protect them.
“We have been working really hard with the community, we have got lots of wildlife carers here,” he said.
“We have had at least 200 sightings from individuals over the last couple of years.”
Mr Stammers said the council had also worked closely with private landholders interested in cultivating the right eucalypt species to support koalas and other native wildlife and the new reserve would complement that work.
“We have got a program just within council called Land for Wildlife,” he said.
“We have got, I think, over a hundred properties, before they were lifestyle blocks or for farming but people are now looking at it to use their land for conservation”.
“They want to show their grandkids and leave something as a legacy,” he said.