A special Parliamentary inquiry held in New South Wales has found the Koala was on track for extinction by 2050, confirming previous studies.
The report found that without significant intervention – to stop the destruction of vital koala habitat, bushfires and other threats like climate change – the koala will be gone by 2050.
The 2019/2020 bushfire season was a huge event, that saw koalas in some areas wiped out completely.
The Parlimentary inquiry found that almost a quarter of the koala habitat on public land was lost, with some areas reporting “a devastating loss of up to 81 per cent”.
“Given the scale of loss as a result of the fires to many significant local populations, the committee believes the koala will become extinct in New South Wales well before 2050 and that urgent government intervention is required to protect their habitat and address all other threats to their ongoing survival,” the report said.
The report also noted many more koalas had been lost in the last several years than recent estimates. There were studies underway to determine how many koala populations were left.
Dr Stuart Blanch of WWF Australia, acknowledged the difficulty of modelling koala populations and reflected that ‘there are different views amongst koala experts now how you would model or map current koala habitat.
New technology and techniques will be required to monitor and develop data sets to understand where koalas remained, the report noted.
The report handed in 42 recommendations for the government to follow in order to prevent the loss of the koala.
These recommendations included the prevention of logging and land clearing. In 2018, it was estimated that 3 million hectares of land was cleared in Australia alone.
“This report must be a game-changer for koalas and the protection of their habitat in NSW,” said the Greens MLC and committee chair, Cate Faehrmann.
“The report found that habitat loss and fragmentation was the biggest threat to koalas, yet at every turn we were handed evidence that showed our current laws are inadequate and facilitating the clearing of core koala habitat.
“The strategies and policies currently in place to protect the koala aren’t working, like the NSW Koala Strategy, which fails in ensuring enough koala habitat is protected for the different koala populations across the state.”
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Ryan is Contributing Editor