Advocates Want Mine Stopped and National Park Established After Thousands of Koalas Killed in Bushfires

July 1, 2020 Updated: July 5, 2020

Without urgent intervention an Australian national icon, the koala, may become extinct in New South Wales (NSW) before 2050, a parliamentary report (pdf) has found.

A NSW upper house inquiry, which released the report on June 30, was established due to significant concern at the scale of loss to koala populations across NSW.

The unprecedented 2019-2020 bushfires killed about 6,382 koalas.

The report found the biggest threat to koala populations in the state was habitat loss due to logging, mining, and land clearing.

The committee made 42 recommendations to the NSW government.

The committee chair Cate Faehrmann demanded urgent intervention including the building of a Great Koala National Park on the NSW Mid North Coast.

Epoch Times Photo
An injured Koala being treated for burns at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park on January 14, 2020. (Peter Parks/ AFP via Getty Images)

“The time has come to transfer all that koala habitat that is still open to logging in state forests to national parks,” Faehrmann wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

The report also recommended ceasing development of the coal mine by Shenhua Group, a state-owned mining and energy company and the largest coal producer in China. The company has also been known for corruption. In February 2015, Shenhua leaders were found misusing their power to fast-track major projects and reap personal profits.

Local koala expert and ecologist David Paull expressed concern for the Shenhua mine proposal, saying that mining had “significantly reduced prime areas of habitat for koalas and other threatened wildlife.”

He verified in the inquiry that over 1,000 hectares of koala habitat had been lost by mining companies in the Leard Forest, just north of the Shenhua mine area. Further, clearing by mining companies has led to the White-Box-Yellow Box-Red Gum Woodland declining by 93 percent of its former extent.

The construction of a mine can threaten habitats with roads, cars, power lines, and fencing, which “creates a hostile landscape for koalas and results in higher numbers of injury and death,” the report said.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was pleased with the government’s work in koala protection.

“If we hadn’t taken action, we would’ve seen those populations continue to diminish and I’m incredibly proud that we put tens of millions of dollars into protecting koalas across the state,” Berejiklian said.