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Koala extinction in NSW in 30 years

Koalas will become extinct before 2050 in NSW unless there is urgent government intervention to prevent habitat loss, a year-long inquiry has found. The NSW parliamentary inquiry also found that a government estimate that there are 36,000 koalas in the state is outdated and unreliable. Source: Timberbiz

The report, tabled yesterday by a multi-party committee, finds habitat loss remains the biggest threat to the species’ survival in NSW.

The committee said this habitat loss had been compounded by the 2019-20 bushfires, with an estimated 24% of koala habitat on public land affected. In some areas, as much as 81% of habitat had been burnt.

The report said climate change was exacerbating the severity of threats to the species such as drought and fire.

“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 committee expressed sadness and concern that the once-thriving koala population in the NSW Pilliga region was likely locally extinct before the bushfires.

The committee made 42 recommendations, including that the government urgently prioritise the protection of koala habitat corridors, improved monitoring methods, increased funding for community conservation groups, banned opening old-growth forest to logging and gave more incentives for farmers who protect land rather than clear it.

Publication of the report comes ahead of an interim report on Australia’s national environmental laws that is due this week.