GREAT KOALA PROTECTED AREA BILL
The Great Koala Protected Area bill was 2nd read on 18 November 2021 and will be debated in the NSW Upper House on 8 June 2022.
This bill would establish a Great Koala Protected Area consisting of 42 existing national parks, regional parks, Aboriginal areas and nature reserves and 175,000 hectares of state forest to promote the conservation and growth of koala habitat and population on the Mid-North Coast consisting of existing national parks lands and state forests.
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Why do we need a Great Koala Protected Area?
Koala populations have long been facing a decline with numbers dropping by a third between 1990 and 2010.
Koala populations have recently been listed as endangered in NSW and are on track to become extinct in the wild in NSW before 2050.
Estimates of the losses from the Black Summer fires range from 5,000 to 10,000 koalas out of a population of only a few tens of thousands. At least 24 per cent of the North Coast koala population and at least 21 per cent of the southern New South Wales population were lost.
Logging is one of the biggest threats to koala populations. Industrial logging of public native forests and large-scale clear-felling within 140,000 hectares of forest land called an Intensive Harvesting Zone is happening along the north coast. 33% of this new zone is mapped by NSW Government as Koala Hubs.
To prevent the extinction of koalas it is essential to protect and expand their habitat, without doing this their extinction is a near certainty.
The proposed protected area, which comprises land across the North Coast, contains 44 percent of all koala hubs identified by the NSW Government.
The Economic Benefit
The native forest logging industry is in terminal decline. Since 2006 the forestry workforce has contracted by almost 15 per cent nationally.
Between 2009 and 2014 the hardwood division of Forestry Corporation of NSW, which is primarily engaged in native forest logging, cross‑subsidised $79 million in losses.
85% of Australia’s wood supply needs are met by plantations.
The Great Koala National Park would replace logging with sustainable eco-tourism that could net the region millions of dollars in revenue.
A report from the Hunter Research Foundation Centre and the University of Newcastle found that the establishment of the protected area and the ongoing protection of koalas, other threatened species and nationally significant biodiversity will bring $1.18 billion to Australia in the next 15 years, a net addition of 9,135 full‑time equivalent jobs and an additional total value‑add of $531 million to New South Wales over the next 15 years.
The research also found that the area is projected to attract an additional one million visitors to the region, who will spend an additional $412 million by 2036—that is if the area is protected. The areas of native forest to be included have been selected based on data from the former NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, along with independent studies that indicate that those areas contain the highest concentration of koalas in the region.
Overview of the Bill
The bill does not create a single national park but retains the individual tenures of land identified in schedules 1 and 2 to be managed collectively under a Great Koala Protected Area plan of management.
- Schedule 1 identifies 42 existing national parks, regional parks, Aboriginal areas and nature reserves to be included with the Great Koala Protected Area.
- Schedule 2 identifies 52 state forests covering 175,000 hectares of land to be gazetted into the National Park system, division 2 of the bill requires that these areas are gazetted within two years of the ascent of the bill.
The bill requires the secretary to prepare the plan of management to ensure the area is managed in a way that provides for the conservation of the koala population, including the conservation of koala habitat; the prohibition of works and activities that may harm the koala population or damage koala habitat and the encouragement of research into land management principles that support the conservation of the koala population and koala habitat;
The bill also requires the secretary to develop a transition plan for forestry workers including a structural adjustment package and must provide for the transition to alternative employment consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development.
The transition plan and the plan of management must both be prepared within 12 months of the bills ascent with draft plans open for submission for 28 days.
Take action now
Send an email right now to key Liberal and Labor Party MPs to demand our government supports the Great Koala Protected Area Bill!