The revelations in Sunday’s Sydney Morning Herald that the Environment Minister, Gabrielle Upton, signed off on NSW’s land clearing laws in full knowledge of the impacts on wildlife and ecosystems highlight how koala habitat on public land must be protected as a matter of urgency, says the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA).
Freedom of information documents showed that Ms Upton knew that less than 1% of koala habitat on private land was protected from clearing under the suite of self-assessable codes, but signed off on them anyway.
NPA CEO, Alix Goodwin said: “The land clearing laws approved by the Minister have put almost all koala habitat on private land at risk of clearing.
“Koalas need habitat to exist. Full stop. If we risk losing most of the habitat on private land, we must protect remaining koala habitat on public land.
“We have proposed a suite of koala reserve proposals—100% on public land—between Port Stephens and Tweed so that koalas have a fighting chance on the NSW North Coast.
“The most important of these is the Great Koala National Park (GKNP). This has been identified by Ms Upton’s own Department as containing koala habitats of national significance
“Yet logging is occurring right now in Gladstone State Forest, part of the GKNP, and the Minister has done nothing to stop it—despite repeated pleas and in full knowledge that koala populations on the north coast have declined 50% in just 20 years.
“It has been left to locals to blockade the forest to stand up for koalas.
“We know from polling we did before Christmas that there is overwhelming support for new national parks to protect koalas. Public land must be managed in the public interest, and there is no more important animal for the people of NSW than koalas.
“We again call on Minister Upton to do what the public wants her to do and create the Great Koala National Park”.
Media contact: Alix Goodwin, CEO: 9299 0000
 A Preliminary Map of the Likelihood of Koala Occurrence in NSW: comparison of preliminary baseline likelihood of occurrence mapping with koala habitat mapping on the NSW north coast: http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/resources/epa/140868KoalaMapSubProj.pdf
See Table 4: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12400