MORE than 2000 homes have been destroyed in NSW alone during this catastrophic bushfire season.
Thousands more have been lost in Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia.
The cost is extraordinary. The outpouring of support and funds from Australia and around the world to help individuals and communities rebuild has been unprecedented and welcomed.
These devastating fires have killed more than a billion Australian animals and the places where they live. Such is the catastrophic nature of the fires, which have burnt into areas where fire has not been recorded before, that there are real concerns for the future of the animals who did escape.
The loss of habitat is not a sexy subject. The focus over the past week or so has been on hazard reduction and the extent to which we should burn fires to protect properties.
But Australia needs to focus on how animals like the koala are going to survive, and thrive, given their particular needs and the extraordinary destruction of koala habitat in these fires.
In northern NSW alone one third of koala habitat areas are estimated to be lost. The destruction could not have come at a worse time for the animals that are emblematic of Australia. Since 2012 koalas have been listed as vulnerable in Queensland and NSW.
This week Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said they could be listed as endangered in some parts of Australia because of the bushfires.
At Brandy Hill between Morpeth and Seaham a Hanson quarry is the subject of a major expansion plan, which will require nearly 50 hectares of koala habitat to be destroyed. Residents have campaigned strongly against the plan because of the koalas that have a healthy population there.
They have been joined by Veterinarians for Climate Action and Port Stephens MP and Labor environment spokesperson Kate Washington, who say the destruction of so much koala habitat in Australia because of the fires requires more than a business as usual response.
Across the Hunter native animal habitat areas have been cleared for as long as people have lived in the valley. Native animals have been displaced in the process. The pockets of habitat left are the places where koalas will rebuild after the fires.