The Federal Government’s move to list the koala as an endangered species is welcome, but much more is needed to ensure the survival of the Australian icon, says Ballina MP Tamara Smith.
“Koalas have been listed only as vulnerable for many, many years so while this is progress, it is awfully slow, and we need to see real action on the ground to save them from extinction,” Ms Smith said.
“The Greens have been calling for this reclassification for a long time, even before the horrendous bushfires of 2019/20 highlighted what an emergency koalas face.
“This new status provides some additional protection, but without a halt to excessive tree-clearing in the State and funding for a wildlife hospital to rehabilitate koalas in our region, it is just shuffling the deckchairs aboard the Titanic.
“Koalas are in a state of emergency. As many as 6400 koalas died in NSW during the bushfires but the fires were really just the last straw: land-clearing and removal of habitat by Forestry Corp had been tightening the noose for decades, and they continue all day every day to shrink the animals’ habitat.
“Koalas then become easy prey for wild and domestic dogs, are more susceptible to disease and are often hit by cars.
“More than 40 recommendations were made by the NSW Upper House Inquiry into Koalas in 2020 and the State Government has failed to act upon them. Saving koalas from extinction means protecting their habitat. Koalas could be extinct in NSW by 2050 unless urgent action is taken.
“I urge governments to take immediate action to address the key threats driving the species towards extinction,” she said.