July 3rd, 2020
Guest writer for Wake Up World
Koalas in the Australian state of New South Wales will be extinct before 2050 “without urgent government intervention,” a new report warns. The report, released Tuesday, is the result of a year-long parliamentary inquiry examining the state of the animal and their habitat. The multi-party committee tasked with the effort was led by Greens Member of the Legislative Council Cate Faehrmann.
Among the key findings was that “following the 2019-2020 bushfires and the general trend of population decline, the current estimated number of 36,000 koalas in New South Wales is outdated and unreliable.” At least 5,000 koalas died in the fires.
And, as a result of the scale of koala population losses due to those fires, and “without urgent government intervention to protect habitat and address all other threats, the koala will become extinct in New South Wales before 2050,” the inquiry found.
The most serious threat to the koalas is “the fragmentation and loss of habitat.” Some parts of koala habitat on public land in NSW witnessed “a devastating loss of up to 81 percent” because of the fires.
The climate crisis is also dealing a blow to the koala population “by affecting the quality of their food and habitat.” That crisis is also “compounding the severity and impact of other threats, such as drought and bushfires, on koala populations,” the report noted.
The report also laid out 42 recommendations, starting off with a call for state authorities to accurately determine koala population numbers. Rounding out the top three are for the NSW government to “urgently prioritize the protection of koala habitat and corridors in the planning and implementation stages of urban growth areas” and to “fund and support local councils to conserve koala habitat, including by identifying pockets of urban bushland to include in the state’s protected area network.”
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