In the Daily Examiner recently , I was appalled to read one person's assessment that new laws aimed at protecting koala habitat would spell the demise of the timber and agricultural industries.
I realise it's everyone's right to have, and express their opinions, but how anyone can spout that type of utter rubbish is beyond me. The agricultural industry had been pretty successful in Australia for more than 200 years, albeit at enormous environmental expense, but we all have to eat. However, to suggest that stopping farmers from cutting down koala feed trees, which have always been there up until now, would somehow cause the industry's collapse, is ludicrous.
The native forest timber industry, which the writer also claims will be threatened with collapse if these laws are enacted, would have gone belly-up decades ago if tax-payers hadn't been forced to subsidise it. By rights, having incurred million dollar losses year after year for the past two decades, state forest logging should have been shut down years ago. At least that would have likely halted the downward spiral in koala numbers, and perhaps even allowed a modest recovery.
Right now, the NSW Government is spending huge amounts of money supporting a range of programs and initiatives to save koalas under the Saving our Species program. These include land acquisitions, feed tree-planting, monitoring and reporting programs and distribution of information.
However, while habitat enhancement is essential to the recovery of koalas, the fact that there is still widespread land-clearing and logging on a scale that far outstrips the habitat creation efforts of the Saving our Species' program, will ensure the continued decline of koalas into oblivion.
Other possible initiatives include investigations into captive breeding, training of vets in the treatment of koalas, and support for wildlife carer organisations, all seemingly last-ditch attempts to stave off extinction, rather than a proactive approach to providing land for koalas to recover across their natural range. The latter would be a logical approach, but we live in a world where logic is in increasingly short supply – witness the panic buying of toilet paper!
This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on March 23, 2020