Highly regarded conservation zoo, Australian Reptile Park on the Central Coast of NSW, is joining forces with National Parks Association of NSW to raise awareness and funds for the establishment of The Great Koala National Park.

This conservation initiative is strategically planned to protect what is arguably Australia’s national icon, the koala, as numbers continue to plummet in NSW state forests and protected land. The Great Koala National Park is proposed to be established by combining 175,000 ha of state forest with 140,000 ha of existing protected land in the Coffs Harbour region to form a 315,000 ha refuge for almost 20 percent of the state’s remaining wild koalas. 

“Australian Reptile Park’s primary role in the establishment of Great Koala National Park is to educate our many annual visitors on the importance of protecting the species and help raise much needed funds to lobby for The Great Koala National Park plans to be approved,” said Tim Faulkner, General Manager at Australian Reptile Park.

“We have a successful small breeding program at Australian Reptile Park, including 18 koalas and five joeys, but that’s not even a drop in the ocean for what is required to save the Koala from extinction in the wild. “Similar to our own conservation efforts with the Tasmanian Devil, donations are needed to protect the species, as there is a lot of red tape to overcome in preserving land for native animals.”

Habitat loss for koalas in NSW is occurring at a rapid rate with National Parks Association of NSW confirming that 83 compartments in The Great Koala National Park proposal area alone have been listed for logging within the next nine months.

Chief Executive Officer of National Parks Association (NPA) Kevin Evans believes that if leaders in conservation, such as NPA and Australian Reptile Park, don’t move quickly to raise awareness amongst communities and the government, the koala could be extinct in NSW by 2050.

“A lot of advocacy work is involved in securing the land to make up Great Koala National Park,” said Kevin.

“Our work will provide the NSW Government with a compelling case and the tools they require to move ahead with the establishment of The Great Koala National Park, whilst also demonstrating the substantial economic and recreational benefits for local communities.

“Despite the global status of the koala as the second most recognised animal in the world after the giant panda, no national conservation reserve has been set aside to ensure the species’ long-term protection. By contrast, China has established a national park covering one million hectares of bamboo forest to protect their pandas.”

National Parks Association is seeking to raise funds in partnership with Australian Reptile Park on Pozible, an Australia-based crowd funding platform and community building tool to help raise finances for their advocacy work. Additional funds over the target will be used to assist with a range of on-ground works, including the planting of koala habitat and plant sources for food on the land. To donate funds see www.pozi.be/koalapark for further details see www.koalapark.org.au