Thursday, 10 May 2018

North Coast gives big thumbs down to Government's Koala Plan

Save the koalas
Over seventy (70) concerned locals gathered in Lismore last night to hear about NSW’s looming koala crisis and sent a big ‘thumbs down’ to reject the NSW Government’s recently-released Koala Plan, including Greens MP Dawn Walker, environmental lawyer, Sue Higginson, Greens MP for Ballina, Tamara Smith and respected koala ecologist, Dr Steve Phillips.

“The Liberal-National Government’s Koala Plan is largely a con-job that doesn’t address the root causes underpinning the crash in koala numbers across NSW” said Dawn Walker, NSW Greens MP. 

“The Government's Koala Plan fails to end the destructive logging of our native forests, fails to wind back habitat clearing laws that are decimating koala habitat on private land, and fails to establish a Great Koala National Park in the Coffs Harbour hinterland where 20% of NSW’s wild koalas are being harmed by logging operations. 

“While the Greens welcome the additional funding for koala care centres, we are alarmed that the few new reserves that the Government has said they will create are too small, degraded and most likely bits of land that the logging industry has said they no longer need, rather than any genuine attempt to strategically protect high priority koala habitat. 

“The Koala Plan is designed to make it look like the Government is acting to protect koalas, but the North Coast community can see the sham for what it is” said Dawn Walker MP. 

“The NSW Koala Plan is one of the most disappointing documents I’ve ever read and the community is right to be outraged given the massive loss of vital koala habitat that will continue across NSW under this so called ‘plan’” said Sue Higginson.

“As a marginal seat, the Lismore electorate has tremendous power to send a message to the Liberal-National State Government that they want an end to destructive logging in our native forests and strong protections for our koalas at the upcoming state election in March 2019.

“The Lismore and Ballina electorates saw an end to coal seam gas mining in our region by voting Green in massive numbers at the last State election. We know that this community cares with recent polling by the National Parks Association revealing that approximately 70% of our community want new National Parks to protect wild koalas.

“When people vote Green, the politicians in Sydney listen and we need to do the same thing to ensure the protection of our wild forests and precious koalas” said Sue Higginson.

09 May 2018

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Berejikilan Government’s Koala Strategy Ignores the Proposed Great Koala National Park
The NSW Koala Strategy released on Sunday almost completely ignores the community’s Great Koala National Park proposal which embraces two of the most important and unprotected koala meta-populations in NSW.

Koala populations have collapsed by 50% in the last 20 years and the Governments response is to propose protection of a small fragmented reserves generally in the steep hinterland on the north coast containing marginal koala habitat. 

“ Although we welcome the shift in Government positioning on protecting koala habitat—the Member for Oxley as recently as February said koalas didn’t need ‘lines on maps’[1]—the Strategy is an inadequate response to a growing crisis”, said Ashley Love chairperson of the Bellingen Environment centre.

Alternatively, the Government could have made a serious attempt at koala conservation and conserved high-quality koala habitat occurring in productive forests along the coast as included in the proposed Great Koala National Park. This is already public land, and therefore a much more cost-effective option.

By proposing small fragmented reserves in steep, remote and, in some cases, degraded forests the Government has lost the opportunity to showcase our koalas through visitor centres accessible to the public and a range of other visitor facilities as proposed in the Great Koala National Park.

To further highlight its failure to recognise koalas on the mid north coast no koala hospital is proposed in the Governments strategy between Port Macquarie and Lismore, the area of the coast that includes the proposed Great Koala National Park.

In failing to take up the proposal to build a koala hospital at the location of proposed Great Koala National Park Visitor Centre on the Pacific Highway at Pine Creek the Government is failing to support genuine koala conservation and ecotourism opportunities and short changing the Coffs Harbour community.

“ The Great Koala National Park proposal has significant support in recognition of the long term benefits it will bring to local communities and businesses “ , said Caitlan Hockey,  campaign coordinator for the Great Koala National Park. 

“ We welcome transfer into national parks of a small area in Oakes State Forest on the basis that it is in the steep and rugged upper headwaters of the Kalang River west of Bellingen, has highly erodible soils, heavy rainfall intensity and is a headwater area of the catchment that should be protected”, said Mr Love. 

“Unfortunately, this seems to be the key approach of the Strategy: to protect areas that are already unwanted by the logging industry due to their isolation, erodibility or degradation. This means that the Strategy delivers minimal conservation gains, and is an inadequate response to the scale of the problem.” 

“In contrast, the Great Koala National Park would protect koala habitat identified as some of the most significant in Australia and at great risk from intensive logging. It would be a globally significant network of national parks, befitting a globally significant species”, Ms Caitlan said

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