18 June, 2024
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NSW koalas could vanish by 2050: Advocates


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Koalas in NSW could be extinct by 2050 unless the government makes drastic changes to knocking down trees.

An estimated 64,000 koalas were killed when 5.5 million hectares was destroyed during the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires in NSW.

Ahead of state elections next year, scientists, politicians and conservationists gathered on Saturday in Coffs Harbour with the aim of lobbying both major parties to keep koalas from vanishing if they are voted into power.

The former federal government listed the species as endangered in February just before unprecedented floods inundated northern NSW.

One of the conference organisers former long-time Liberal turned Independent MP Catherine Cusack said “the world will never forgive us for the great silent vanishing of koalas which we know the reasons for”.

A 2020 NSW parliamentary report found koalas would become extinct by 2050 in the state unless government intervention to prevent habitat loss was mandated.

World Wildlife Fund Australia’s Stuart Blanch, one of the speakers, said the state’s rhetoric on increasing the number of koalas needed to match actions by curbing logging of native habitat.

“NSW is at a crossroads in working out what it does with forests, what it does with koalas and other forest wildlife and …what we do with cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

“These all come together in what we do with our public native forest logging sector and a transition to a plantation sector,” he told AAP.

He praised the NSW government’s announcement in April of a record $200 million for koala conservation to help double the state population but said more safeguards against logging needed to be put in place.

“The government has failed in protecting koalas habitats from logging and land clearing,” he said.

“What’s really needed and is difficult politically to commit to is ending deforestation and logging of koala habitat.”

Earlier this year, planning in western Sydney came under fire from scientists warning disease-free koala populations were put at risk by a new housing estate near Campbelltown, which they claimed lacked environmental safeguards.

Australia has the highest rate of species extinction in the world with climate change expected to raise the risk of further annihilation.


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