A motion passed at the NSW National Party conference to create ‘koala sanctuaries’ won’t save the species from the problems the Nationals have created via their enthusiasm for land clearing and native forest logging says the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA).

The motion, which called on the NSW Government to speed up the development of the whole-of-government koala strategy and to create koala sanctuaries that sound more like refugees camps, is conservation National Party style.

In essence, the Nationals seem to be proposing the creation of enclosures into which will be placed koalas that are injured or displaced via logging and land clearing. Queensland has seen a dramatic increase in the number of koalas being brought into care since land clearing laws were relaxed.

NPA Senior Ecologist, Dr Oisín Sweeney said:

“We’ve got a great koala sanctuary ready to go that will protect koalas in their natural habitat, protect some of NSW’s most important koala populations and give a huge economic boost to the Coffs coast. It’s called the Great Koala National Park (GKNP).

“NSW Labor and The Greens have already thrown their support behind the GKNP. If the Nationals are serious about protecting koalas, we call on them to knock on the Environment Minister’s door and make it happen. They’re the government after all.

“This will require some soul searching from the Nationals, because it’s their determination to facilitate land clearing and industrial-scale logging that has caused the problem for koalas in the first place.

“However, now that the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has released modelling showing that the best koala habitat is found in state forests, it’s become very difficult in the face of spiralling declines in koala numbers to deny the impact that logging is having on the world’s favourite animal.

“Of course, this impact is obvious because the EPA and independent academics have shown over and over that koalas like big trees and mature forests, not matchsticks and clear-felled moonscapes.

“The DPI modelling also confirmed what we already knew: that the GKNP is in exactly the right place to protect koala habitats of national significance.

“What’s more, the GKNP is comprised entirely of public land, meaning that the conservation bang for buck is orders of magnitude greater than building expensive enclosures that must be maintained indefinitely.

“The creation of glorified zoos is a Nationals non-solution to a Nationals problem and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of koala biology.

“Koalas don’t do well when moved around. Despite their sleepy appearance they’re a highly stressed animal. The best thing we can do is to create large well-connected protected areas incorporating their habitat. The best thing we can do is create the Great Koala National Park.”

Ends.

Media contact: Oisín Sweeney 0431 251 194