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Great Koala park a step closer with advisory panels

Chris Minns up close with a koala

A Great Koala National Park on the New South Wales’ Mid North Coast is a step closer, with the establishment of three advisory panels to provide input into the creation of the park. Source: Timberbiz

NSW Premier Chris Minns, Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe and Minister for Agriculture and Regional NSW Tara Moriarty have visited Bongil Bongil National Park near Coffs Harbour to see first-hand the areas that will form the park and meet scientists who are using drones to improve the accuracy of the NSW koala count.

The three advisory panels representing the views of industry, the community and Aboriginal groups will give feedback on the process of assessing land for inclusion in the national park. They will also provide information on economic, social, ecological and cultural matters.

The panels have been created to represent a broad cross-section of stakeholder views and facilitate data and information sharing. They will hold their first meetings before the end of the year.

The process of establishing a Great Koala National Park also includes an independent economic and social assessment which will consider the impacts on local jobs and communities. There will be an expert environmental and cultural assessment to safeguard the unique environmental and cultural heritage of the region.

The establishment of the advisory panels is another important step towards the NSW Government’s commitment to save koalas in the wild. This will be done while balancing the need to have a sustainable timber industry. $80 million has been committed to the Great Koala National Park in the 2023 to 2024 NSW Budget launch.

Timber harvesting operations have stopped in 106 koala hubs within the areas being assessed for inclusion in the park. Koala hubs are areas where there is strong evidence of multi-generational, high-density populations of the iconic animal. These areas account for 42% of recorded koala sightings in state forests in the assessment area since 2000.

“Inaction and neglect by the previous Coalition government saw the koala officially listed as endangered in NSW. Creating a Great Koala National Park will turn around the animal’s grim trajectory,” Premier Chris Minns, said.

“The Industry, Community and Aboriginal Advisory Panels will ensure we consult with all stakeholders, to create a park that will both protect our native animals and create jobs, tourism and other economic opportunities on the Mid North Coast of NSW.”