NSW Koala Strategy and more

State of play with koala protection in  NSW

With so much talk about strategies and counter strategies, the Great Koala National Park (GKNP), its pros and cons, the Guardian News has tried to pull together some of the information around of late.

We first asked Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton to outline the NSW Government’s koala initiatives:

Answers are from a spokesperson of the Department.

Can you please outline the list of initiatives undertaken to protect koalas in NSW?

In May this year the NSW Government released the NSW Koala Strategy committing $44.7 million towards securing the future of koalas in the wild. This is the biggest commitment by any state government to koalas.

Over three years, the NSW Koala Strategy will deliver:

o   $20 million to purchase and permanently conserve land that contains priority koala habitat in the national park estate

o   $3 million to build a new koala hospital at Port Stephens

o   $3.3 million to fix priority road-kill hotspots across NSW

o   $4.5 million to improve the care of sick or injured koalas

o   $6.9 million to improve our knowledge of koalas starting with the development of a state-wide koala habitat information base

o   $5 million to deliver local actions to protect koala populations, including through the Saving Our Species program 

o   $2 million to research impacts of natural hazards and weather events on koalas

You can find out more about the NSW Koala Strategy: www.environment.nsw.gov.au.

Prior to the NSW Koala Strategy the NSW Government invested significant funds in koala conservation through the Saving our Species program and  Environmental Trust.

In 2016 the NSW Government established new Flora Reserves on the NSW Far South Coast to protect the last local koala population

Why did the Government not accept the amendments put up by the Greens recently to add over 175,000 hectares of state forests to the National Parks estate to create a Great Koala National Park on the mid-north coast, one of the areas where the population is under most stress?

The NSW Government has committed to an ongoing, stringent, collaborative process for identifying the most suitable land to add to the national park system. This will ensure available funds achieve maximum conservation outcomes, while recognising the importance of a sustainable timber industry in NSW, which supports our regional communities

The lands being transferred through the Bill are part a broader range of government announcements that will see over 43,000 hectares of land managed for conservation outcomes in NSW.

Following the parliamentary vote Greens MP and Environment Spokesperson, Cate Faehrmann, said it was disappointing and somewhat surprising to hear the Labor Party indicate their support for the GKNP and yet by voting against the amendments, they effectively voted against its creation.

“The community can be assured that should Labor be in government after the next election, the Greens will be holding them to their promise to create the GKNP.”

Labor’s response came from the Shadow Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe, who said: “Labor supports the Great Koala National Park & will announce our detailed policy in the lead up to the state election."

"It is disappointing that the Greens chose to mislead the public on Labor's support."

"When it comes to saving koalas in NSW, the Liberals and Nationals should be targeted for their lack of action, not Labor."

She said she had written an open letter to the Greens on Facebook: CLICK HERE

How do you respond to the following by Greens MP and Environment Spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann:

"No significant additions to the National Parks estate have been made during the term of this government"

Since 2011 more than 75,600 hectares have been added to the national park estate. Over seven million hectares of New south Wales is now managed and protected for conservation by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. The network of 874 parks covers close to nine per cent of the State.

The NSW Government has committed $20 million under the NSW Koala Strategy to purchase and permanently reserve land containing priority koala habitat. Two properties have been purchased to date: 402 hectares of high quality koala habitat in the Southern Highlands which connects the Blue Mountains to wilderness areas of Morton National Park and 43 hectares of prime koala habitat on the Tweed Coast.

And this:

"The Government is in fact working hard to lock in long term timber contracts for native forests on the mid-north coast prior to the election"

The NSW government is committed to a long term ecologically sustainable timber industry in NSW. The NSW Forestry industry Roadmap sets  out a range of actions this Government is taking to ensure the timber industry is economically efficient, supports regional communities and delivers social and environmental benefits. This includes reforming how the industry is regulated to ensure it is sustainable, and undertaking a range of industry initiatives to balance timber supply and demand.

The NSW Forestry Industry Roadmap is HERE .