The NSW Premier must urgently intervene to ensure remaining threatened species habitat in the state is protected after a list of threatened species at risk of extinction after the fires, including the koala, was released by the Federal Government, says Greens MP and Environment and Wildlife spokesperson Cate Faehrmann.
The report from the federal government states that two priority actions should be urgently carried out: 1) Rapid on-ground surveys to establish the extent of population loss and provide a baseline for ongoing monitoring. 2) Protecting unburnt areas within or adjacent to recently burnt ground that provides refuge, as well as unburnt areas that are not adjacent to burnt areas, especially from extensive, intense fire.
“One of the key recommendations from this expert report by the Federal Government is to urgently protect unburnt areas for refuge for threatened species. That Premier needs to urgently intervene and pull out all stops to protect remaining threatened species habitat,” said Cate.
“We’ve lost at least 8,000 of koalas in these bushfires, yet their habitat continues to be logged in many parts of NSW. State-owned forests on the mid-north coast contain almost half of all the high-quality koala habitat where intensive logging and clear-felling operations are due to occur.
“The Premier must take over from the Deputy Premier and instruct all logging contracts to be bought out along with a transition plan for forestry workers. This must include creating a Great Koala National Park on the mid-north coast which has seen 85% of koalas from bushfires in Port Macquarie.
“We’ve also seen threatened species habitat on private land decimated since the loosening of environmental protection laws. More than 5,000 hectares of koala habitat was bulldozed in the NSW districts of Moree and Collarenebri in one year alone shortly after the laws were changed.
“This report must be the catalyst to create 21st-century environmental laws which incentivise landholders and communities to protect forests and threatened species habitat on private land. It’s now or never for our threatened species,” said Cate.