Koalas could be extinct in NSW within 30 years unless urgent action is taken, according a report by a parliamentary committee.
The report from an Upper House inquiry into koala populations and their habitats was released today.
Committee chairwoman Cate Faehrmann said it was estimated at least 5000 koalas perished in the recent bushfires.
The Greens MP said the findings of the year-long inquiry should be a game changer for the state government.
“What became crystal clear during this inquiry was that, without urgent government intervention, the koala will become extinct in NSW before 2050,” she said.
“At every turn we were handed evidence that showed our current laws are inadequate and facilitating the clearing of core koala habitat.
“The strategies and policies currently in place to protect the koala aren’t working.”
The committee made 16 findings and 42 recommendations, which will now be considered by the state government.
- Create a Georges River National Park to secure habitat for south-west Sydney koalas;
- Investigate establishing a Great Koala National Park on the mid-north coast;
- Close old-growth forests in state forests to logging;
- Urgently investigate using habitat on private land and in state forests to replenish populations hit by bushfires.
“There must be a significant increase in koala habitat protected from logging, mining, land clearing and urban development,” Ms Faehrmann said.
“The government needs to incentivise farmers so they’re paid more to protect trees on their land instead of clearing them, and overhaul the failed biodiversity offsetting scheme, which allows core koala habitat to be cleared.”
The inquiry also highlighted the importance of the koala population of south-western Sydney.
It estimated up to 800 koalas between Campbelltown and Wilton in the Wollondilly shire were extremely vulnerable because of urban expansion and roads.
“The committee found that the exclusion fencing on Appin Road is dangerous and needs to be removed or at least needs to include overpasses and underpasses to protect koalas in that area,” said Ms Faehrmann.
It also urged the government to create a national park to ensure a koala colony at the contentious Figtree Hill development was protected before work went ahead.”
“One of [the recommendations] is the creation of the Georges River National Park, which will protect to some extent the significant koala population in south-west Sydney,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“It is a chlamydia-free population and it was increasing in numbers when the committee first met and heard evidence from witnesses in that area.”