In early May the NSW Government finally released its Koala Strategy. One of the major parts of this strategy was the creation of “new” koala reserves.
While it is not surprising that the Government has finally responded to community concerns about the plight of koalas, their proposed reserve system has been seen by conservationists as completely inadequate and more about spin than a genuine attempt to halt the rapid decline of this species.
An analysis of the proposed reserves (most of which are in State Forests) by the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has shown that 82% of these proposed reserves offer no new protection for koalas because these areas were already protected in forest reserves.
Furthermore only 2% (554 ha) of these reserves are actually high-quality koala habitat. Creating koala reserves in areas which do not contain suitable habitat is pointless as it will not assist in reversing the species’ decline.
Another concern is that hunting will be permitted in eight of the twelve areas because they will be designated Flora Reserves where hunting is permitted.
And all of these reserves are away from the coastal forests where the best koala habitat exists. None are located between the Bellingen catchment and the Queensland border. So the Clarence catchment, which includes some significant areas of high-quality koala habitat, has missed out entirely.
NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh stated, “It is fraudulent for the NSW Government to pretend that these are new Koala Reserves. There are many state forests known to be far more important for koalas that the Government has ignored.”
Kate Smolski, CEO of the Nature Conservation Council, pointed out that koala populations on the North Coast in the last 20 years have collapsed by 50% and that the Government’s strategy will do little to redress that decline.
She said, “If the Berejiklian government was serious about saving our koalas from extinction it would be ending native forest logging, strengthen land clearing laws and create the Great Koala National Park.”
It is very disappointing that we have a government with so little concern about biodiversity protection.
- Leonie Blain