WWF celebrates giant win for koalas with process to establish Great Koala National Park

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The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia has congratulated the NSW Government for moving forward with its commitment to establish the Great Koala National Park.

Environment Minister Penny Sharpe and Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty today announced the process to create the koala safe haven on the NSW Mid North Coast, and halt timber harvesting operations in the 106 koala hubs within the area being assessed for the park.

WWF-Australia’s Senior Manager, Towards Two Billion Trees, Dr Stuart Blanch said the new national park would help to stabilise and reverse the decline of east coast koalas.

“This is a giant win for our koalas, forests and the communities who have been fighting for their protection,” said Dr Blanch.

“NSW koala numbers collapsed by more than 50% between 2000 and 2020 due to deforestation, drought and devastating bushfires.

“Today’s announcement is a chance to turn this tragedy around and safeguard some of the most fertile and important koala habitat on Australia’s east coast.

“If we’re going to save koalas from extinction this century, then we need massive new protected areas covering millions of hectares of forests.

“This could become a global model for landscape-scale conservation of an endangered species.

“The Great Koala National Park will not only benefit koalas, but also hundreds of other species that live in the tall eucalypt forests of the Mid North Coast. This includes endangered greater gliders, long nosed potoroos, and glossy black-cockatoos.”

Dr Blanch welcomed the commitment to halt timber harvesting in koala hubs, but called on the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Forestry Corporation of NSW to go further.

“NSW must put the ‘great’ in Great Koala National Park,” he said.

“It’s fantastic that koala hubs will be protected, but this still leaves more than 160,000 hectares vulnerable to logging until the park is created.

“The Forestry Corporation of NSW should make a commitment to stop logging koala feed trees in the proposed national park, and engage in sector wide transition planning towards sustainable timber plantations.”

“WWF also hopes today’s announcement spurs on NSW government intervention for another endangered state icon, the greater glider, ensuring no further logging within the stronghold of Tallaganda State Forest.

Dr Blanch said the NSW Government also needed to allocate significant funds to support affected timber workers and purchase the wood supply agreements that must end to create the new national park.

Dr Blanch also welcomed the plan to establish advisory panels with community and Indigenous representatives to provide input into the creation of the park.

“Consultation on handback of public native forests to Indigenous communities must be central to creation of this national park,” he said.

The proposal for a Great Koala National Park was developed by the National Parks Association of NSW and has been supported by koala ecologists and conservationists for many years.

WWF-Australia has been advocating for the new national park as part of its Koalas Forever program to double the number of koalas across eastern Australia by 2050.

“Wins such as this are hard won, and a credit to those that support bold programs such as Koalas Forever and the many community groups that work tirelessly to call for better,” said Dr Blanch.

To find out more and support Koalas Forever visit: https://wwf.org.au/what-we-do/help-regenerate-australia/koalas-forever/

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