Rally hears that koalas are on ‘death row’

Photo: Rigmor Helene Berg

“Koalas in NSW are on death row,” Chris Gambian from the New South Wales Nature Conservation Council (NCC) told a rally in Hyde Park on June 5.

“Business as usual is simply no longer an option.”

Several hundred people joined the call on the NSW government to take urgent action to protect koalas and their habitat.  Speakers from a range of organisations demanded an end to the destruction of native forests to save the habitat of the world-famous marsupials.

Rallies were also held at Lismore, Bowral, Coolongolook (Port Stephens), Hornsby, Ku-ring-gai Chase and Tahmoor.

Agriculture, urban development, mining and forestry are pushing koalas to the brink. Koalas are now on track for extinction in New South Wales by 2050, according to the ACF.  

Meanwhile, the government is discussing an amendment to the Local Land Services Bill that would destroy even more koala habitat.

“[Koala] numbers were plummeting before the Black Summer bushfires killed thousands and incinerated millions of hectares of forest. We need a step-change in our conservation efforts or koalas will join the Tasmanian Tiger – as an emblem of our failure as ecological stewards,” Gambian said.

“Any credible strategy for the species’ long-term future must include a strict ban on the destruction of koala forests and significant investment in new nature reserves, habitat restoration and ecological research.

“This issue is above politics: it is now time all parties worked together to implement the solutions we need.”

Muruwari and Budjiti man Bruce Shillingsworth said: “Koala’s are First Nations totems that need to be protected. Our totem’s die, we die.”

Alea Babeck, from Student Strike for Climate, added: “This has become the most urgent issue. Land clearing and logging are huge contributors to the climate emergency.

“We need our forests as vital carbon sinks and as habitat for our wildlife, like koalas. But We are logging more forests than any other developed country. We should be doing all we can to protect the remaining wild places, not cut them down for woodchips. We can’t afford to do this anymore.”

Other speakers included Animal Justice Party MLC Mark Pearson and Greens MLC David Shoebridge.

The NCC’s  campaign, launched in March, is promoting a  that includes: the addition of 200,000 hectares of koala forest to national parks; banning the destruction of koala habitat on public and private land; setting up a $1 billion koala conservation and restoration fund; and ending native forest logging.

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