The peak body Nature Conservation Council sent the following report in early June.
THE BEREJIKLIAN GOVERNMENT’S planned koala reserve contains only 2% of high-quality koala habitat and offers no significant new protection for the species whose numbers are rapidly declining, new analysis has shown.
The North East Forest Alliance obtained and analysed maps of 24,000 hectares of mostly state forests that the government plans to use for a koala reserve system, which is a major plank in the government’s long-delayed Koala Strategy, unveiled on May 6.
Hunting permitted in 8 of the 12 ‘reserve’ areas
- 82% of the “new reserves” offer no new protection to koalas. That is because 82% of the “new reserves” were already protected in forest reserves.
- Only 2% (554ha) of the new reserves are high-quality koala habitat. This assessment is based on the government’s latest koala habitat modelling.
- Hunting will be permitted in 8 of the 12 areas because they will be designated Flora Reserves.
- All the reserves are in the hinterland, away from the coastal forests where the best koala habitat exists.
- Less than 2.5% of the “new” reserves match the proposed Great Koala National Park.
Only apparent criteria: have no impact on timber harvest
North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Dailan Pugh: “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.
“The selection of these areas has been a cynical political exercise with no attempt to identify and protect the most important Koala habitat on state forests, with the only apparent criteria being to have no impacts on timber.”
National Parks Association Senior Ecologist Oisin Sweeney said: “It is clear the government has made a choice – it is timber over koalas.
“The government’s own mapping shows the importance of the Great Koala National Park proposal, yet the government plans to implement an intensive harvesting zone that will see koala habitat destroyed over large areas and reduced forests to monocultures of blackbutt between Grafton and Taree.”
The Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said: “Koala populations on the North Coast have collapsed by 50% in the past 20 years and the NSW Government’s strategy will do little to redress that decline.
“If the Berejiklian government was serious about saving koalas from extinction it would ending native forest logging, strengthen land clearing laws and create the Great Koala National Park.”