Hunter Koala carers have appealed to Premier Dominic Perrottet and Environment Minister Matt Kean to introduce stronger laws to protect the native marsupials and their habitat.
They are among 17 koala rescue and rehabilitation groups from across the state that have signed a letter commending the premier for investing in koala rehabilitation. But they also warn the government will fail to double koala numbers as promised if logging and clearing of koala habitat continues.
The groups believe a decision on the Koala Strategy and land-clearing codes are imminent.
Their letter states: "Koalas are a unique and irreplaceable part of our national natural heritage. We all have a duty to conserve them for future generations.
"It would be a shameful legacy to lose this species when it is clearly within our power to avert such a tragedy. If [the NSW Koala Strategy] does not adequately address habitat loss as a key threat, the NSW Government cannot achieve its stated goal of doubling wild koala numbers by 2050."
The NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee has previously warned of "a very high risk" that Port Stephens koala populations could become extinct due to land clearing for agriculture, housing, sand mining and roads.
The koala groups state that in order to arrest and reverse the decline in koala numbers, the NSW Koala Strategy must:
- Strengthen koala protections in key laws and codes, including the Biodiversity Conservation Act, the Local Land Services Act, the Private Native Forestry codes and the 2021 Koala Habitat Protection SEPP;
- Declare the 175,000ha Great Koala National Park and the 7,000ha Sandy Creek Koala Park on the North Coast and new koala national parks for southwestern and western Sydney; and
- Protect koala habitat from intensified logging under weakened forestry regulations
Koalas in NSW remain in a perilous state after thousands were killed during the Black Summer bushfires.
The future of the state's koalas came into sharp focus last year when the Liberal and National parties fought over new regulation of koala habitat, with the Nationals determined not to allow increased controls over critical habitat that is privately owned.
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