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Koalas on the edge of the survival precipice

Former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally's $16 million support for koalas was a token pre-election gesture considering the massive threats to koalas. They need a particular species of eucalypt trees, which are being rapidly cleared in NSW.

The conflict with humans is due to the fact that koalas prefer forests growing in better soils, and most of these forests have been chopped down for agriculture and housing. This has left many koalas living in small, isolated patches of poor quality forest. It means that young koalas may have to cross open spaces, including roads and attacked by dogs. They have even been spotted scratching at wooden human structures such as fences and poles, with dogs barking at them from below!

Lack of suitable food and the stresses of fragmented habitats makes them more susceptible to disease.

The Australian Koala Foundation estimates that there a possibly as few as 43,000 koalas remaining in Australia. Koalas are a “vulnerable species” in NSW.

Keneally's government recently reported that that by the year 2036, NSW will have a “projected” population from 7.2 million now to 9.1 million people.

MP, Kristina Keneally failed to give support for the Bill to have pets banned for sale in pet shops and mandatory desexing. Her respose was a big fat “no”, hidden amongst diversions about the cost of desexing mice and rats.

Commercial use of National Parks NSW

The NSW Keneally Government’s Tourism Bill introduced specific tourist development provisions into the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1974, including a long shopping list of facilities to allow for such things as fast food joints, supermarkets, golf courses, rifle ranges, conference centres and resorts of all sorts.

It's about prostituting our National Parks. Instead of Parks and Wildlife being the custodian of wildlife and wilderness, it will be procuring visitation to protected areas that exploits and harms fragile ecology for commercial gain.

These changes are dressed up by the Government as a strengthening of the National Parks Act when the opposite is true. Advice from senior legal counsel confirms that the changes will undermine the multiple layers of protection that have until now kept national parks free from development.

The areas account for 30 per cent of New South Wales’ national parks and would be protected by strict guidelines including visitor number caps according to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

We humans can continue fueling the loss of other indigenous species, consume natural resources and destroy habitats for our own growth, or we can take the responsible and moral decision to share our land equitably. The survival of native species needs more than token gestures.

Strezlecki Koalas- devestation in Gippsland

The Strzelecki State Forest is home to mammals such as echidnas, platypus, koalas, wombats, two species of antechinus, two species of bandicoot, the black wallaby a variety of gliders and possums (including sugar glider, greater glider and yellow bellied glider), several native rats (including the rare broad-toothed rat) and bats, including the bent wing bat, potoroos and the rare and endangered tiger quoll, (the largest carnivorous marsupial on the Australian mainland), and the Southern rat kangaroo, common in Tasmania, but very rare on the mainland. The dingo, once common, has disappeared from the region.

The Strzeleckis have the only relic population of koala left in Victoria and South Australia. All other populations are genetically inbred.

Friends of Gippsland Bush spokesperson Suzie Zent said that the Victorian koala was almost hunted to extinction in the early 1900s. By the 1930s the koala in mainland Victoria was confined to a few remnant areas in South Gippsland and Mornington Peninsula.

Hancock logging

In 1998, Hancock purchased perpetual logging rights to a large portion of Victoria, including the Strzelecki Ranges. It was and still is Australia's largest ever forest sale – 170,000 hectares.
In 2001, Hancock signed hardwood contracts to supply Maryvale until the year 2027.

The best of the remaining Strzelecki habitat is being logged at a rate of 700 hectares per year by Hancock Victorian Plantations (HVP), after they gained perpetual logging rights in 1998 via the sale of the Victorian Plantations Corporation by the Kennett Government, after logging 7000 hectares of koala habitat over the past decade,

As the Strzeleckis were replanted with indigenous trees between 1950 and 1980 (after massive clearing between 1880 & 1930) the Koalas in many instances moved back into planted areas.

October 2006 a $7 million deal meant protection for several key rainforest catchments, with Hancock handing over logging rights in contentious areas such as College Creek.

As part of this latest 'protection' deal, 1,500 ha of Mountain Ash forest inside the 8,000 ha of Cores and Links were to be clear felled, mainly for woodchips, over the next 20 years. Only after the logging companies have pocketed their profits, the 8,000 ha will then be fully managed as a reserve.

Any shortfall not reached by logging selected areas within the Cores and Links would then be met by logging native forest.
The Victorian government then signed a $5.5 million deal to buy back native forest in Gippsland's Strzelecki Ranges. The landmark deal was to save more than 20,000 hectares of native forest from logging in the state's south-east.

However, the 2006 historic Heads of Agreement (HoA) was overturned by current Conservation Minister Gavin Jennings and HVP CEO Linda Sewell a new agreement in August 2008 without community involvement. This new agreement will allow for clearfelling of ~350ha of Mountain Ash inside College Creek and another 1150ha elsewhere within the Cores and Links Reserve.

The January/February 2009 Delburn and Churchill fires burnt out approximately 50% of the best remaining koala habitat in the Strzelecki Ranges. Thousands of koalas most likely perished in the fires. Sam the koala become a symbol of those lost souls.

Koalas need protection

When tourists arrive in Australia, the first thing they want to see is a koala. It is far more inspiring to see them in the bush rather than a zoo. HVP have strategies to develop habitat and corridors on their property but they are a business and their strategies will only be followed if there is a profit in it. The safety of the koalas relies entirely on the contractor out felling the trees at the time. They are not going to stop and check every tree before it is felled. Spotting koalas is very difficult and contractors just don't have the time.

Scientists say inbreeding is leading to higher rates of disease in many koala populations and is threatening the species' survival. But a recent study has found that koalas in the Strezlecki Ranges have maintained their genetic diversity.
Deborah Tabart from the Australian Koala Foundation says it vital that strong, healthy populations are preserved.

Reflex Paper

The Reflex brand has been the target of the Wilderness Society’s Ethical Paper environmental education campaign. In less than two weeks, hundreds of Australian companies have pledged to not purchase Reflex Paper until Australian Paper stops sourcing from native forests.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_P28Jloxec

Strzelecki Ranges is suffering from devastating logging regimes under Hancocks management, with problems of habitat for koalas and other issues. Also remember the devastating effects of the fires in Victoria. State and federal politics as well as corporations are lacking transparency over such important matters.

Save the Redlands.. Eat a koala?

Car stickers suggesting people should eat koalas have outraged environmental groups, the RSPCA and politicians in Brisbane's east.

State MP for Cleveland Mark Robinson condemned the stickers, but says that we need to find better ways for koalas and humans to coexist in the Redlands without stopping development and growth. There's little chance the koalas can coexist while competing for the same territory, and so many obstacles. Local businesses were more interested in protecting their own interests than koalas.

Redland mayor Melva Hobson said the stickers were reprehensible and in extremely bad taste. Even though most of the residents treasured the koalas and wanted them protected, he rejected the inference that the council has got the balance between development and the environment wrong. Koalas don't have political or financial powers as business lobby groups, their they are unlikely to swing any “balance” in their favour.

Humans are in plague proportions, with SE Qld being a good example. Koalas are threatened there. Koalas can't adapt to the power of human land transformation, introduced enemies and chain-saws!

Ethical paper petition

Sign the ethical paper petition. Paper shouldn't cost the Earth.

It's an evolutionary trait for species to consume and grow and dominate, but humans do it better than others. The decline of koalas has nothing to do with inability to adapt, or “survival of the fittest”. Species' decline has everything to do with massive population increases in Australia, and it is not “natural” but augmented by immigration. There is no way koalas can evolve and adapt fast enough to overcome roads, logging, land clearing, invasive species and pets. The only way koalas could “win” is if they had machine guns to protect them!

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Comments

A koala has been photographed clinging to a bulldozed tree on land the Gold Coast City Council has been pushing to have turned into a conservation site.

(See Koala sighting incites conservation debate of 5 Apr 11 at
http://www.goldcoast.com.au/article/2011/04/05/305335_gold-coast-news.html  Please have a look. It will be hard not to feel sorrow for the poor creature. - Ed.)

The poor animal is photographed clinging to a tree after being cleared.

The koala has been relocated, but the Perron Group hopes to build 3500 homes in what now is operating as a farm. This validates the clearing at the moment! More land is to be cleared yet.

Plague proportions of humans vying for land means that native animals such as koalas will be denied habitat, except in zoos and reserves.