Great Koala Park push flawed, says MP Melinda Pavey

CHANGING who manages local lands will have little if any effect on the health of koala populations, claims local MP Melinda Pavey.

The answer to concerns about Mid North Coast koalas does not involve converting more State Forest to National Park, Mrs Pavey said.

“A few people might get all starry-eyed, but simply changing tenures doesn’t do much for koalas,” the Member for Oxley said.

“There are now 2.4 million hectares of National Parks, Conservation Areas and Nature Reserves in our region, and these areas are meant to be conserving our biodiversity.

“Whereas the timber industry now has access to just 400,000 hectares of State Forest in northern coastal NSW; only 1-2 per cent of this is used in any one year, and large areas of habitat are preserved in corridors throughout these forests.”

Mrs Pavey said landholders know that the National Park Estate is ‘under-managed’ for key threatening processes of wild dogs, wildfire, scrub invasion and eucalypt decline – all causing koala habitat degradation.

“The question is: what will more Park-land actually achieve?” she said.

“I think we need to know if the National Park Estate is being actively managed and is actually making a positive and lasting contribution to threatened species survival - before we even think about it having more land.”

Mrs Pavey said the community must look at the actual performance of the conservation estate in achieving real outcomes - just enlarging it does not automatically deliver good conservation outcomes.

As such, Mrs Pavey said the NSW Government is instead developing a sophisticated, whole-of-government NSW Koala Strategy, with the NSW chief scientist and engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane AC.

She said this strategy must address the range of core true issues:

  • properly managing the existing conservation estate for koalas
  • stronger actions on reducing dog threats
  • better fire and wildfire management
  • introducing multiple multi-function Koala Sanctuaries to provide hospital, breeding, re-homing and re-population services for Koala recovery.

“I really do think it’s time for a mature, factual, science-based and constructive discussion about forestry, our forest estate and koalas – not just more land tenure changes,” Mrs Pavey said.