Inquiry finds koalas could be extinct by 2050
DROUGHTS and recent bushfires have decimated any chance of survival for the beloved koala, according to a NSW Government Inquiry.
The 12-month inquiry into the NSW Koala population and their habitat survival found unless urgent government intervention is taken to protect populations, koalas will become extinct across the state by 2050.
"The strategies and policies currently in place to protect the koala aren't working, like the NSW Koala Strategy which fails in ensuring enough koala habitat is protected for the different koala populations across the state," committee chair and Greens MP Cate Faehrmann said.
The report, which was supported by the government, the opposition and the Greens, made 42 recommendations, including the establishment of the Great Koala National Park on the mid-north coast.
Ms Faehrnmann said if established, the park could even extend to protecting koalas on the Far North Coast.
"This report has demonstrated beyond doubt that decades of logging in public native forests has had a devastating impact on koalas and their habitat," she said.
"The government must immediately identify and protect koala populations and habitat in the wake of this apocalyptic bushfire season.
"The committee has proposed that the government investigate the establishment of the Great Koala National Park.
"The committee heard compelling evidence that the park would protect large areas of core koala habitat while creating a globally significant tourist attraction."
Committee member and Liberal MLC, Shayne Mallard, said the government had heard the "alarm bells" about the decreasing koala population and welcomed the inquiry's findings.
While exact population numbers are unknown and surveying continues, the report relied on 2012 government data that suggested 15,000 koalas remained in NSW.
However, the committee found that after consulting with wildlife groups those numbers could have since reduced to 15,000 before the recent bushfires and a further 4,000 koalas could have died over the summer.
Labor's Shadow Minister Environment, Kate Washington, also supported the findings of the inquiry, and urged the urged the NSW Government to adopt the inquiry's road map to save koalas.
"No one wants the only koalas in NSW to be in zoos," Ms Washington said.
"No one wants to explain to our grandchildren that we were warned but did nothing to save wild koalas in NSW.
"The NSW Government must take urgent action to save NSW koalas from extinction."