The timber industry’s attempt to scare the public with claims the Great Koala National Park will harm regional economies seeks to distract from the logging that is pushing koalas closer to extinction.

“Weaker logging laws introduced in 2018 legalised clearfell harvesting in public forests in north-east NSW, some of the best remaining koala habitat proposed for protection in the Great Koala National Park,” NPA Senior Ecologist Dr Oisín Sweeney said.

“These laws will allow virtual clear felling of diverse native forest and their replacement by even age native plantations – according to a member of a panel tasked with analysing the new laws.

“They are designed to prop up an unsustainable wood supply arrangement at the expense of the environment generally and koala forests in particular.

“A Senate Inquiry investigating Australia’s  fauna extinction crisis has repeatedly highlighted the role of native forest logging in wildlife declines.

“We need to take action now if we want species like koalas to be around for the long-term, and creating the Great Koala National Park would be a massive first step.

“Industry lobby groups constantly claim protecting the natural world will spell disaster for jobs and the economy, but the evidence shows this is untrue.

“Protecting the Gondwana Rainforest World Heritage Area, Fraser Island, the Great Barrier Reef and Kosciuszko all met with opposition based around fears of job losses and economic disaster, but all have been a boon for local economies and promise a constant revenue stream for generations.

“We can and must move away from destructive industries and see our natural world as an asset.

“The government estimates koalas alone support 9,000 Australian jobs, and nature-based tourism contributed $19.6 billion to NSW last year.

“And these figures don’t even begin to count all the other values of forests, like clean water and carbon stores that are worth many times the value of wood.

“NPA – and other groups – have worked really hard to ensure that the Great Koala National Park would deliver jobs and opportunities for local communities. For example, our call for $6 million investment in mountain bike infrastructure would return many times that amount every year, based on case studies elsewhere.

“The Great Koala National Park can be a boost for jobs, and help protect koalas. It’s not scary, it’s a bright new future.”

ENDS.

MEDIA CONTACT: Oisín Sweeney

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