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Koala habitat destruction triples after NSW protection axed

Koala habitat destruction

14 hectares of Koala habitat bulldozed each day.

SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOWS a massive spike in the destruction of NSW Koala forests, with the rate of tree clearing tripling in the state’s north since the axing of the NSW Native Vegetation Act in August 2017.

Following the removal of laws protecting Koala forests, more than 5,000 hectares of Koala habitat has been bulldozed in the NSW districts of Moree and Collarenebri at a rate of about 14 football fields a day, states a new report by WWF-Australia and the NSW Nature Conservation Council.

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HIGHLIGHTS

Since the repeal of the NSW Native Vegetation Act, in the Moree-Collarenebri region:

  • Clearing almost tripled. 8,194 ha was cleared in 2017–18, up from 2,845ha in 2016–17.
    (See Table 1, p2 in the above link)
  • 14ha of Koala habitat was bulldozed each day in 2017–18 (5,246ha of habitat destroyed).
    The Koala is designated as vulnerable to extinction under commonwealth and state law.
  • 19ha of Painted Honeyeater habitat was bulldozed each day in 2017–18 (6,942ha of habitat destroyed).
    The Painted Honeyeater is designated as vulnerable to extinction under Commonwealth and state law.
  • Habitat for 247 native species may have been destroyed in 2017–18, including habitat for nine species of National Environmental Significance.
  • The Moree–Collarenebri region is already extensively cleared.
    Only 6% of the study area has forest remaining while 11% is sparse woodlands.

Maybe only 20,000 koalas left in NSW – scale of destruction not seen in 20 years

WWF-Australia conservationist Stuart Blanch said: “WWF-Australia estimates there are likely less than 20,000 koalas left in NSW and at the current rate, they are on track to be extinct in the state by as early as 2050.  We have to stop this excessive tree-clearing if we want to keep koalas alive in the wild for future generations.

Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said: “Our satellite imagery analysis confirms the dire predictions of the government’s own advisers, who warned the new laws would permit bulldozing of 99% of identified koala habitat on private land in the state.

After colonial massacres for skins
and endless habitat loss,
Koalas on track to be
extinct in NSW by 2050

“The area where this habitat destruction has occurred is one of the most heavily cleared in the state, with only 6% of forest remaining while an additional 11% was in sparse woodlands.

“The NSW Government is responsible for opening the floodgates to the destruction of Koala forests and woodlands on a scale we have not seen for more than 20 years.

“This report looks at a fraction of the state, so we fear this spike in deforestation in the north is just the tip of the iceberg.”

The report concludes that repeal of the NSW Native Vegetation Act in August 2017 was likely the major reason behind the dramatic surge in forest and woodland destruction in this known clearing hotspot.

IMAGE: Supplied (Cicilia)


Bulletin editor says:

Concerned about koala habitat?  Write to the Premier

NSW voters can write directly to Premier Gladys Berejiklian with reaction to the Coalition’s National Party-driven assault on native vegetation and native animals in 2017–18. Tell her what these developments might do to your voting intentions.

Email — Links to Premier’s website email  OR   willoughby@parliament.nsw.gov.au;
Phone electorate office — (02) 9439 4199;   
Copy in — the Opposition Environment spokesperson Penny Sharpe  penny.sharpe@parliament.nsw.gov.au

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