The NSW Government recently announced $10 million to voluntarily acquire properties with core Koala habitat across the north coast of the state, as part of the Save our Species program to save Koalas.
$10 million in this day and age does not go far, particularly when managed by bureaucrats who will spend a large portion of that on touring the state running workshops and think-tanks. Air travel, hire cars, accommodation, venue hire, and catering, not to mention the employment of project coordinators, and experts in the field.
While grateful for any action to save koalas, those currently on the 'front line' of this struggle to save the species from almost certain extinction in this region, question the effectiveness of buying, at most, 10 - 15 properties across an area of perhaps 20,000 square kilometres.
Recently, various stakeholders received a letter from the office of Environment and Heritage, signed by Steve Hartley, Director Public Land and Aquatic Ecosystems Policy Branch, proudly announcing the Government's Koala initiative, and inviting suggestions.
It should be noted that Mr Hartley previously worked with the Forestry Policy and Regulation Unit of the Environment Protection Agency, watching on as Forests NSW rode rough-shod through our native forests, flouting regulations in regard to threatened flora and fauna, and destroying Koala habitat with impunity in state forests such as Boambee, Orara East, Clouds Creek, Double Duke and Royal Camp in the Northern Rivers.
So here is a logical solution. If the government is really serious about saving Koalas, how about putting an immediate halt to logging in any state forest where Koalas are known to occur? That would achieve much better results, and cost taxpayers nothing. In fact, $10 million is little more than native forest logging has cost taxpayers each year for the past decade and a half, so we'd actually be saving money!
And just think of all the hundreds of other threatened species that would benefit along the way, while the money saved each year could be added to the $10 million and start making a real difference through their strategic acquisitions program.
- John Edwards
This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on December 12, 2016