The Knowledge Hub

Don’t let our precious koalas fade away

  • Sutherland Greens support these actions:
  • Stop and/ or restrict development that has a detrimental impact on current and future koala habitats in the Shire.
                          • Expedite the creation of koala reserves
                          • Expedite the creation of an east-west wildlife corridor
                          • Mapping koala habitat and populations across the Shire

The loss of our koala population is a national disgrace and a disaster.  In NSW a report by wildlife conservation group WWF and the NSW Nature Conservation, Koala populations in NSW overall, have declined by an estimated 26% in the last 15-20 years; threats to their long-term survival include habitat loss, climate change, vehicle strikes and dog attacks. The Black Summer bushfires killed an estimated 8,000 koalas in NSW and while they can be hard to find, there may be around 20,000 to 30,000 wild koalas still living in NSW.

The Nature Conservation Council found that the repeal of the state's Native Vegetation Act in 2017 lead to a massive 60% increase in land-clearing with Koalas losing more than 5000 hectares of habitat in northern NSW.  The new law allowed self-assessment under codes. If threatened species are present, then landowners must seek permission prior to clearing. But in practice, it has led to a disastrous increase in loss of native vegetation and illegal clearing, according to environmental groups.

The NSW government tabled the ‘Koala killing bill‘ in 2020- but its introduction was defeated in the Legislative Council.  However, on 17th March 2021, the Koala SEPP 2021 reinstated the policy framework of SEPP Koala Habitat Protection 2019 to 83 Local Government Areas (LGA) in NSW. At this stage:

  • In nine of these LGAs – Metropolitan Sydney (Blue Mountains, Campbelltown, Hawkesbury, Ku-Ring-Gai, Liverpool, Northern Beaches, Hornsby, Wollondilly) and the Central Coast LGA – Koala SEPP 2021 applies to all zones.
  • In all other identified LGAs Koala SEPP 2021 does not apply to land zoned RU1 Primary Production, RU2 Rural Landscape or RU3 Forestry.

So, although the stated principle is to help reverse the decline of koala populations the Koala SEPP 2021 essentially allows property owners to clear sections of native bushland without prior environmental assessment. EFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh asserts that  Over 60 per cent of koalas occur on private lands, and now the vast majority of their habitat will be available for clearing and logging, without any mapping of core koala habitat and no requirements to look for koalas”

 It is estimated that about 400 plus koalas live in the Macarthur bushland in south-western Sydney — the largest population of koalas in the Sydney basin and they are an important colony because they are some of the healthiest koalas left in NSW and the colony is chlamydia-free. This colony is now under threat from overdevelopment. The development in this instance is the Greater Macarthur Growth Area; a massive urbanisation of southwest Sydney.   Part of this program -  the approval of a 260 home development in Appin has been fast-tracked by the NSW Government. The $70 million project falls within the core habitat of the State's healthiest and only rebounding koala population. The plan has met with local protest and the Wollondilly Shire Council has repeatedly rejected the plan due to concerns such as the absence of an effective Koala Management Plan.

Environmentalists believe these developments have triggered koala migration in that koalas are now trying to reach their original habitat areas in the Royal National Park and the Blue Mountains.

 Unless this massive overdevelopment plan can be halted and/or minimised the best the Koalas in the area can hope for is the creation of Koala reserves, wildlife corridors and the continued push for and supervision by committed environmental groups.    

Currently, the only management plan for southwest Sydney is the proposed Georges River Koala Reserve. This reserve will protect up to 1885 hectares of existing koala habitat and enhance the connectivity of fragmented patches of important habitat, including protecting the important north-south koala corridor. The draft plan spans eight local government areas including Blacktown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Camden, Wollondilly, Hawkesbury and Penrith. NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann, who chaired a parliamentary inquiry into koala populations and their habitat, said the draft plan was a good start to ensuring koalas were protected. However, she flagged concerns over the timeline of its implementation: "Koalas can't wait that long, so I urge the government to protect the entire 1885 hectares immediately".

In late 2019 a koala was found in the front yard of a home in the residential suburb of Kirrawee which borders the northern edge of the Royal National Park and since then more koalas have been spotted in the Shire. Since these are Koalas migrating from southwest Sydney, to enable safe passage an east-west corridor is now imperative. A comprehensive overview of the need for an east-west wildlife corridor can be found on the SSEC website

If you support the call for a wildlife corridor and koala protection measures you can: