Saturday 28 May 2022


The 2019/20 bushfires, and a damning report from the 2019 Legislative Council Inquiry into NSW Koala Populations sent the NSW government hurrying to produce a report claiming successes with their earlier Strategy, and deciding on further tactics to prevent Australia from losing a globally renowned species on their watch.

Will this updated Strategy be any better?  It comes with funding of $193.3 million, along with 30 actions aimed at doubling NSW koala numbers by 2050. This in itself could be questionable when eventual outcomes are released since koala numbers today are not known, with an estimate of 15,000 to 30,000, giving a ballpark figure of 20,000.

There is also concern that this commitment will not see any marked changes, for a number of reasons. The main one is that although over 280,000 ha of premium and secondary koala habitat is officially identified in north-east NSW State forests alone, with some supporting important koala hubs, there are still no plans to permanently protect these vital habitats from logging.

Another is that instead of basing conservation outcomes on legislative changes and government responsibilities, they once again are to rest on private landowner decisions - to either sell their homes to the government, or take up binding conservation agreements (CAs) attached to their properties' titles. For the first option the government wants 15,000 ha, with some already selected from the Northern Rivers. For the CAs, they plan for just 7,000 ha from across the whole of NSW. This does not generate confidence that many necessary koala corridors will be safely protected.

Also the actual protection value of a CA can often depend on adjoining neighbours, who can legally log their properties, and gradually clear for a number of legitimate reasons, even through koala habitat.

On a more positive note, if this funding can support a dedicated effort to bring our koalas back from the brink, then we might hope to see some level of success, perhaps to a point where a passing tourist in known koala habitat might even be able to see a koala.

- Patricia Edwards


Published in the "Voices for the Earth" column in The Clarence Valley Independent , May 18, 2022.


Tuesday 10 May 2022


Anjali Sharma was one of eight young people who took the federal Environment Minister (Sussan Ley) to court last year over whether the minister had a duty of care to young people in the decisions she made approving new fossil fuel projects which could exacerbate the effects of climate change in the future.  While the court originally found in favour of the young litigants, the decision was overturned on appeal.

Ms Sharma is still campaigning for effective climate action.  She recently asked all candidates at a candidates’ debate in the inner Melbourne federal seat of Macnamara if they believed that the federal environment minister owed a duty of care to young people to protect them from climate change.

One of the candidates, instead of simply answering “Yes” or “No”, expanded her response by saying that teaching children there is a climate emergency is almost abuse because it’s stressing them about the environment.  This candidate added later that we should be teaching our children hope, not fear.  Many of the children she was referring to are adolescents who are interested in understanding the world and its problems and do not want to be kept in ignorance – blissful or otherwise.  In other words they are certainly not the “quiet Australians” so beloved of our current Prime Minister.

Ms Sharma  stated that she and other young activists are informed people who have read the news and have listened to the climate scientists and know that time is running out for securing a livable future.

She is very concerned about the major parties’ failure to take climate change seriously with their talk of the economic importance of backing fossil fuels and ignoring the humanitarian cost as well as the many well-documented benefits of shifting to a clean economy.  

In a recent article in the Guardian Australia she pointed out that currently there are 114 new fossil fuel projects in the pipeline.

As a first time voter, she said that she will be voting for the climate as will be hundreds of thousands of young people like herself.

            -Leonie Blain