A $45 million intervention package has been announced by the NSW Government to protect the state’s vulnerable koalas.
In 2016, New South Wales chief scientist Professor Mary O’Kane led a review into the declining status of the states koalas. As a result, a $45 million intervention package has been announced by the NSW Government to protect the threatened species.
"We know that there are around 36,000 koalas left in the state, but we don't know that for sure," NSW Premier Gladys Berejikilian said to ABC News.
"It would be such a shame if this nationally iconic marsupial did not have its future secured."
The government’s objective is to stabilise and eventually increase the population of koalas. It will do this by allocating funds to numerous measures:
- Thousands of hectares of land will be set aside for the koala, whose population has declined by about 26 percent over the past 20 years.
- Almost 25,000 hectares of state forest in the mid-north coast will become a koala habitat.
- A new hospital for the marsupial will soon open at Port Stephens on the state’s mid north coast, to care for sick and injured animals. A network of koala health centres is the long term goal, as well as the establishment of a rescue hotline.
- Around $20 million from the NSW Environmental Trust will be used to buy land with large populations of koalas and designated as national parks, protecting the animal.
The measures don’t stop there. The strategy aims to fix roadkill hotspots, introduce more vaccines and engage local communities.
The package will also be used to fund more research into koala health and habitat preservation.
The Australian Museum’s director of science, professor Rebecca Johnson, was also involved in the review, and she welcomes the announcement. “It’s an excellent first step…the most important thing is trees for them to live in, and leaves for them to eat," Dr Johnson said.
"Koala conservation is complicated — they have a very coastal distribution, they have a very specific diet, of largely, entirely eucalyptus leaves.
"They've suffered the impacts of urbanisation when land is cleared for developments or housing."
The koala intervention package will be rolled out over the next three years and reviewed in 2021.
- Ensure koalas have homes in the future by planting a native tree on National Tree Day, July 29 (or Schools Tree Day, July 27)
- Donate to koala rescue efforts such as WWF’s Adopt a Koala campaign
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