Our koalas are in serious trouble. Habitat loss and fragmentation due to land clearing and urban development has already resulted in koalas disappearing from 75% of their former range in NSW and numbers have plummeted by a third in just twenty years. Most of the remaining high quality koala habitat lies in state forests and on private land where clearing of native vegetation and logging is leading to the removal of vital food and habitat trees. In the future the changing climate will serve to further exacerbate these threats.
The Great Koala National Park is a grand plan to secure the future of our koalas before it is too late.
Part of a strategic koala reserve plan, the new park will include two internationally significant koala metapopulations, estimated to contain almost 20% of the state’s remaining wild koalas. This significant new national park can be created by combining 175,000 ha of state forest with 140,000 ha of existing protected area in the Coffs Harbour region, to form a 315,000 ha refuge for our koalas. Our proposal is backed by extensive research by individuals and organisations on the NSW north coast including the Bellingen Environment Centre, Clarence Environment Centre, Nambucca Valley Conservation Association Inc., the North Coast Environment Council and the North East Forest Alliance.
This spectacular landscape hosts lush World Heritage rainforests, some of the world’s most diverse towering eucalypt forests, and an array of threatened species, such as the Hastings River Mouse, Powerful Owl and Spotted-tailed Quoll. By establishing the Great Koala National Park we would be protecting not only our iconic koala, but the ecosystems and species that share their home.
Large and well-managed protected areas remain the single most effective tool to conserving species and their habitat. The Great Koala National Park, which forms part of a strategic koala reserve plan, is the best chance for our koalas to have a secure future in NSW.
Despite the global status of the koala as the second most recognised animal in the world after the Giant Panda, no national conservation reserve has been set aside to ensure the species long-term protection. By contrast, China has established a national park covering one million hectares of bamboo forest to protect their Pandas.
In addition to protecting our national icon, the Great Koala National Park will serve as a haven for a wealth of other threatened and native species and protect the towering forests in which they live. But it’s not just our environment that will benefit. A Great Koala National Park will also provide long-term, sustainable economic and cultural benefits to surrounding communities such as Bellingen, Coffs Harbour and Dorrigo. In addition, the park will provide less visible but vital benefits, such as safeguarding water supplies and carbon storage.
To learn more about our Great Koala National Park campaign, visit www.koalapark.org.au
NPA is a Lead Partner of the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative (GER), one of the world's largest connectivity conservation projects. GER is bringing people and organisations together to link and protect healthy habitats spanning 3,600km from Western Victoria through NSW and ACT to Far North Queensland.
The Great Eastern Ranges contain Australia's longest and most unfragmented north-south mountainous landscapes and habitats. They include vast dissected tablelands and escarpment and span major variations in rainfall, temperature, soil types, altitude and latitude. This vast area contains Australia's richest diversity of plants and animals and contains catchments that provide a reliable, clean source of water for over 90% of the population of eastern Australia. The area is also rich in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal heritage, and is a living cultural, social and economic resource for the millions of people who live in, or beside the ranges.
GER works with local communities to build awareness about conservation, providing a practical framework for local action in the context of a much bigger picture. Using the principles of connectivity conservation, GER empowers communities to conserve and restore biodiversity across the whole landscape, on private as well as public lands.
NPA has been instrumental in shaping the vision of the GER Initiative over many years. We recognise that through connectivity conservation, we can ensure that national parks, travelling stock routes and other key habitats form part of a healthy, connected landscape and society.
As a lead partner of GER Initiative, NPA is developing Citizen Science programs across the Great Eastern Ranges region. We play an important role in the ongoing development and strategy of this initiative.
NPA is also the host organisation of the Illawarra to Shoalhaven GER regional partnership, established in 2012. This is one of the newest GER regional partnerships, spanning the area from Royal National Park in Southern Sydney to Budawang National Park, north of Batemans Bay. For more information about the partnership, email the I2S regional partnership facilitator.
New South Wales is home to a unique and diverse array of ecosystems and plant and animal species. Alarmingly our biodiversity is in serious jeapardy, with the list of species facing extinction in New South Wales on track to reach 1,000 by 2020.
This is due to a growing range of threats including habitat loss and fragmentation, population growth, feral animals and weeds, and climate change.
NPA is working hard to advocate for the protection of New South Wales unique species and the ecosystems that support them.
With the responses of successive governments so far inadequate to stem the extinction crisis, NPA, together with the Nature Conservation Council of NSW has released a Vision for Nature Conservation in NSW. This ambitious program outlines the goals that governments need to embrace to halt the loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity. These are:
Terrestrial Parks: Ensure the survival of all NSW terrestrial ecosystems in perpetuity by conserving at least 17% of the state in national parks, nature reserves and conservation areas by 2020. Currently only 9% of the state is protected in reserves.
Marine Parks: Ensure the survival of all NSW marine species and ecosystems in perpetuity by creating a comprehensive, adequate and representative system of marine protected areas by 2020. A marine park for the Sydney region is the missing piece in the states marine reserve network.
Forests: Restore 15% of native vegetation and forests to near natural condition by 2050. Currently only about 9% is in a natural condition.
Connectivity: NSW requires a well-managed, well-resources and integrated network of natural areas. Governments must invest far more in the Greater Eastern Ranges project and preserve the state’s network of travelling stock routes.
Governance: Natural areas and native species must have strong legal protections against exploitation. The current review of biodiversity conservation laws must result in stronger protections.
NPA is involved in a number of projects that help to conserve wildlife and biodiversity across the landscape. These include campaigning for World Heritage Listing of the Eucalypt forests of North-Eastern NSW and efforts to help protect koalas.
In addition to campaign and advocacy work, education and awareness-raising comprises a significant proportion of our work. One of the most effective ways of achieving this is by giving people the opportunity to connect with nature through citizen science initiatives and our Activities Program.
Nine of the state’s leading conservation groups have launched Our Environment, Our Future: Policies for the 2015 NSW Election and Beyond, a 24-page road map for candidates of all parties contesting the next state election.