Greens MP, Cate Faehrman, Presents Great Koala Park Bill To Parliament

Cate Faehrmann, MLC and Kevin Evans at the Great Koala National Park Information and Visitor Centre at Urunga.

 

GREENS MP, Cate Faehrmann, has presented the Great Koala Protected Area Bill (2021) to the Legislative Council.

Ms Faehrmann and environmental groups across the Mid North Coast are calling for bipartisan support for the Bill which will provide habitat protection to help save NSW koalas from extinction.

Spokesperson for the Great Koala National Park (GKNP) Steering Committee, Kevin Evans, said, “Time is fast running out for koalas in NSW.

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“Without habitat protection koalas will struggle to exist in the wild beyond 2050.”

The proposed GKNP would include the transfer of 175,000 hectares of state forest in the Mid North Coast of NSW into national park to create a 315,000-hectare Koala protected area.

Existing reserves would remain named as they are but the GKNP would become an umbrella name over all the included reserves.

“It’s time to put aside entrenched political opposition to koala habitat protection on public lands to save our national icon.

“We call on all MPs to vote for the Great Koala Protected Area 2021 Bill,” Mr Evans said.

According to Mr Evans, the NSW State Government’s own assessment of where the highest priority for habitat protection for koalas should be, correlates with the proposed GKNP boundaries, but since 2015 more than 3000 hectares of this vitally important koala habitat in the mid to north coast has been logged, placing further pressure on increasingly fragmented koala populations.”

He said that in 2015, the then Labor Leader Opposition Leader, Luke Foley MP committed an elected Labor Government to creating the GKNP as a priority policy.

However, the current Opposition Leader, Jodi McKay, has not made the same commitment to the GKNP.

Mr Evans said, “We are now calling on Jodi McKay and her MPs, to support the Great Koala Protected Area, 2021 Bill.”

He said that loss of habitat is the primary reason why koala numbers have declined for decades, so supporting the GKPA Bill would go a long way towards saving koalas from extinction.

Despite widespread community support for greater protection for koalas, the NSW Government has not yet moved to protect core koala habitat on public land on the scale needed to address their dramatic decline across the state.

Mr Evans said, “Currently logging is either planned or underway in several mid north coast state forests identified by the government as important for koalas and which are within the boundaries of the proposed GKNP.

“Our unique native forests continue to be destroyed for the princely sum of $28 a hectare or 20c a tree.

“Sadly, this is the reality of the NSW forestry sector, operating with state and federal support but without a social license or even a profitable business model,” he continued.

According to an analysis of the proposal by the University of Newcastle, the GKNP proposal would deliver 9,000+ jobs for the Coffs Coast, and generate $2.8 billion in value for the nation.

“There is a smarter way to manage our publicly owned state forests, one that would support koala conservation and grow the economies of rural communities,” said Mr Evans.

“The Coffs Coast tourism economy would benefit significantly with the study estimating that the Great Koala National Park would increase visitors to the region by an additional 1 million per annum who will spend $412 million,” he said.

“All we need now is for the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, to intervene and live up to her promise that she will be the Premier that saves our koala for future generations by supporting the GKPA Bill, 2021.”

For more information visit the Great Koala National Park website: www.gknp.org.

 

By Andrew VIVIAN

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