The National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) welcomes an addition to our reserve system: a 402ha nature reserve on the bank of the Wollondilly River in Canyonleigh. This new reserve is strategically placed between Blue Mountains and Morton National Parks.
The acquisition was informed by the Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project, a collaboration between Wingecarribee Shire Council, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and community volunteers and landholders.
The Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project has been tracking Koalas and mapping their habitat and feed trees since 2013 in response to devastating bushfires. They estimate that the Southern Highlands hosts a population of 3,000 Koalas, approximately 10% of the state’s population.
While welcoming the announcement the NPA called on the government to finalise and release its Whole of Government Koala Strategy to protect koalas from logging, land clearing and urban development.
As the Office of Environment and Heritage’s website states: “Koala populations are under increasing pressure and have declined in NSW by an estimated 26% over the past 15 to 21 years. Without active intervention, this level of decline is likely to continue…and threats will be exacerbated by climate change.”
“Habitat protection is the most effective way to protect threatened species, like our Koala,” said NPA CEO Alix Goodwin.
“It is reaffirming to see that partnerships, like the Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project, can put their research into action resulting in a gazettal of a new national park.
“We also commend Wingecarribee Shire Council’s conservation work with surrounding private landholders: encouraging both vegetation conservation and land for wildlife agreements.
“This cross-tenure approach to habitat protection is vital to Koala conservation is NSW.”
NPA has been running ‘Who’s living on my land?’ workshops with Wingecarribee Shire Council since 2015 to help private landholders discover what species are on their property using infrared cameras.
“Many landholders participating in our workshops have subsequently joined the council’s Land for Wildlife program, adding hundreds of hectares of quality bushland to the Southern Highlands’ conservation network,” said Ms Goodwin.