Koala in Tree Coffs Harbour Image by Dave Wood

In Australia, it’s worth asking why is our iconic Koala NOT creating more jobs.

Koalas have limited protection under the current development planning system. Both State and Federal governments have actually led to an increase in losses in the population of Koalas. So, why would 9000+ new jobs in koala tourism, a boost to our NSW economy, be seen as a threat to both levels of government?

Recent koala research predicts the species is in serious decline and likely to be extinct by 2050.

In NSW, the State Governments early planning efforts to protect koalas under State Environment Planning Policy 44 (SEPP 44), has so far failed to slow the extinction rate.

Remarkably, SEPP 44 has been further weakened this year and is now closely managed by the NSW National Party who recently stated they would not support protections for Koalas that ‘restrict development potential’.

Image by Dave Woods, Coffs Harbour

Now, not surprisingly, close to 80% of Koala habitat in NSW has been excluded from the ‘new’ Koala SEPP 2021.

Private Native Forestry (PNF), which is industrial scale logging of koala trees on private land, is a major reason why both levels of government are failing koalas.

So when PNF land and all rural zones outside of Sydney, Blue Mountains and the Central Coast are NOT included in Koala SEPP 2021 – one can better understand the deliberate failure to protect koalas. This is especially so since these rural zones have further planning triggers that remove the requirement for any Koala assessment. It’s more than a koala can bare!

Protection measures that have been recommended are solutions such as fencing, which only further restrict Koala movement.

Executive powers to approve development have now been given to the Minister for Planning. There is no requirement for input from anyone else including the Minister for Environment and it highly restricts any objection options the community may have.

Yet, the current NSW State Government has claimed it will double the Koala population by 2050.

I find that hard to believe under the current koala policies and unless koalas learn to fly it seems voting Green is what will really save koalas creating nearly ten thousand jobs in process.

Timothy Nott
Timothy Nott

Environmental Scientist Bsc(REM) GradDip (Mar)


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