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Koala in a tree
Photograph: Unsplash

Koalas may be extinct in New South Wales by 2050, parliamentary inquiry reveals

The summer's devastating bushfires were a heavy blow to conservation efforts

By
Divya Venkataraman
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In June 2020, a report was presented to the New South Wales state parliament containing harrowing statistics on the future of the state's koala population.

As a result of widespread bushfires over the summer of 2019-20, at least 5,000 koalas perished in the state. Fires over the past year have affected 24 per cent of koala habitats. This, coupled with logging and continual 'fragmentation' of koala habitats through commercial activity, has contributed to an uncertain future for these NSW's population of Australia's most iconic animal. The report held that "without urgent government intervention", koalas will become extinct in the state within 30 years. 

The number of wild koalas has been declining for decades due to increasing urbanisation, disease and the habitat destruction. According to the report, climate change and its reverberating effects pose an increasingly significant challenge to the survival of the koala population. However, the committee found that the "clearing of land for agriculture, development, mining and forestry" was the most serious threat to the continuation of the species in the state. Such activity has "severely impacted most koala populations" in NSW, over a sustained period. 

So, how do we fix the issue and save our precious koalas? The committee came up with a list of 42 recommendations and urged the government to implement them without delay. The action points included that the government should take stronger action to protect and preserve animal habitats, both on private and public land. The report also stated that certain public forests be protected from logging, that bushfire recovery and preparation plans include a focus on preserving koala habitats, and that the establishment of a Great Koala National Park on the NSW Mid-North Coast and the Georges River National Park in Sydney’s South West be investigated. 

The report's foreword ended on a decisive note. Acting upon these recommendations, noted the committee's Chair, was the only way their children's grandchildren would ever be able to see a koala in the wild.  

Nature's calling. Here are the seven best national parks to explore around Sydney.   

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