ACCORDING to a recent report by a parliamentary committee, koalas could be extinct in NSW within 30 years unless urgent action is taken.
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The report concluded that current laws were inadequate in protecting the species and actually facilitated the clearing of core koala habitats.
It also highlighted that the habitats needed to be better protected from logging, mining, land clearing and urban development.
In Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens, the koala population is listed as an endangered population under the TSC Act, with less than 20 animals remaining.
Ian Morphett, Secretary at Myall Koala & Environment Group, said that the Myall Coast koalas have certainly been affected by certain issues raised in the report.
“The Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens koalas were officially declared endangered in 1999, when it was estimated that there were about 12 koalas,” he said.
“Once the Koala Recovery Plan was introduced in 2004, the local population recovered somewhat, however, in recent years our urban population has slowly declined, mostly due to loss of habitat.”
Mr Morphett continued, “Of particular impact has been the cutting down of about 20 percent of the koala food trees in Hawks Nest following the introduction of the Rural Fire Service’s 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code in 2014.”
“Increasing development in Tea Gardens has meant that koala sightings there are now very rare.”
“There is also great concern about potential intensive development in North Hawks Nest where the existing vegetation is vital to maintaining a wildlife movement corridor between the National Park and the township,” he said.
The Myall Koala and Environment Group has been tracking the local population since 1989 and has an extensive database of koala sightings.
Residents are encouraged to report their koala sightings on the Group’s hotline answering machine at 4997 0878.
By Ashley CHRYSLER