KOALA LOVERS ARE celebrating after almost 200 hectares of prime habitat near Port Macquarie were put beyond the reach of property developers.
NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean announced this morning the government, with a $3.5 million contribution from Koala Conservation Australia, had bought a 194ha block of forest next to Lake Innes Nature Reserve.
The purchase follows a long community campaign to conserve one of the best unprotected patches of koala habitat left in the district.
“This is a great victory for the community and for the region’s koalas,” Nature Conservation Council Acting Chief Executive Jacqui Mumford said.
“While it is a relatively small patch, it will make a significant addition to the existing nature reserve and improves the chances that koalas will persist in the area for many years to come.
“Koala Conservation Australia has done an amazing job raising more than $3 million to ensure this land does not end up in the hands of developers who have destroyed huge areas of koala habitat around Port Macquarie.
“It is a pity the public had to chip in to protect this land when people expect their taxes to be used to ensure the long-term survival of the species.
“But putting that aside, today is a great result for our most loved species.”
Ms Mumford said many thousands of hectares of koala habitat in NSW were still not protected from logging, land clearing and property development, including Lend Lease’s housing development at Mt Gilead on Sydney’s southwest outskirts.
“The government has the power to protect koalas for future generations and to honour its pledge to double koala numbers by 2050, but only if it acts swiftly and boldly to protect their habitat across the state,” Ms Mumford said.
“Koala protections in NSW have been weakened since the National’s threatened to blow up the government because they wanted to let landholders keep bulldozing koala habitat.
“The government’s new Koala Strategy is now well overdue, and with every month’s delay, the species edges closer to the brink.”