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NSW government's $10m koala plan a recipe for extinction

By Sue Arnold - posted Friday, 6 January 2017


He says:

…the eastern sub-population will have half or more of its foraging habitat destroyed by clearing for road construction and special disruption is likely within the eastern sub population resulting from the breakup of Koala " cells" that are likely to contribute to population breakdown.

The potential for mortality by vehicle strike and dog attacks will be increased with exclusion fencing which will funnel Koalas into the Wardell urban area with increased risks.

Of major concern is the intention by RMS to use an untested experiment to drive Koalas from their home range trees which are to be felled. The RMS will collar and ring-bark feed trees to " encourage" Koalas to move to other areas. These "other areas" are not identified.

Local ecologists indicate serious problems for koalas forced to move from their home range. Displaced koalas will be disoriented and stressed. Accustomed to their home range, knowing their environment, many of these koalas are not likely to survive in the long term.

Connectivity structures which are a key plank in the RMS protection strategies are condemned by the Milledge review.

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If the effectiveness of connectivity structures had been seriously addressed, then road viaducts would have been proposed for Koala hotspots and for existing movement corridors rather than mainly drainage culverts.

Although an alternative route was suggested to the RMS, which offered protection to the Ballina Koala population, it was rejected on the grounds it was " too expensive". Yet another ramification of Australia's unique wildlife having zero value economically when animals conflict with development.

Milledge sums up the major issues:

The review fails to deal with the ramifications of the Baird government's Biodiversity Conservation and Local Land Service bills. The Threatened Species Act which provided some protection for koalas is repealed. Under the new legislation, offsets can now be made in dollars.

The review fails to explain how the NSW government can provide habitat protection for Koalas under the new laws when its Chief Scientist claims that there is insufficient information to identify all habitats and colonies.

A cursory examination of records held by community organisations, environmental groups and published papers would demonstrate that there is sufficient information to identify all habitats and colonies. Protecting these habitats is the primary issue.

At the Federal level, the Government undertook to develop a National Recovery Program which was to commence in 2014.

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As of January, 2017, there is no Recovery Program and the politically driven destruction of koala habitat continues unabated.

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About the Author

Sue Arnold is the co-ordinator for Australians for Animals International, an International Whaling Commission NGO, working internationally on marine issues, particularly whales and dolphins. She is a former Fairfax investigative journalist who regularly lobbies the US government in Washington DC, as well as the European Parliament and Commission on whale issues. She can be contacted at suearnold25@icloud.com.

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