Council makes Submission to State Koala Population Inquiry

Council makes Submission to State Koala Population Inquiry

Posted on: 22.08.2019

Wollondilly Shire Council has made a submission to the NSW Legislative Council’s ‘Inquiry into Koala Populations and Habitat in NSW’ calling for the government to prepare a strategy specifically for the management of koala populations in South West Sydney, including Wollondilly.

Council has welcomed the inquiry as a way of addressing shortcomings in the current koala protection framework and enhancing the long-term survival of koala habitat; however it believes that there has been inadequate consideration of development pressure in relation to State designated growth areas.

Acting Director Infrastructure & Environment, Alex Stengl said, “Council’s submission has been written with a belief that inadequate practical action now will cause an extinction crises in the near future.”

“It is Council’s view that the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has been undertaking land use planning which adversely impacts the survival of koalas within the Wollondilly Local Government Area.”

“We are strongly concerned that the largest Chlamydia disease free koala population in NSW is not currently protected by an Integrated Regional Conservation Plan,” she said.

The submission highlighted Council’s long term concern that the revision of the Koala Habitat Protection Planning Policy remains incomplete, particularly in relation to the lack of an up-to-date list of koala tree species and an adequate definition of ‘Core Habitat’ for koalas.

Shortfalls in the NSW Koala Strategy were also highlighted in the submission, with Council pointing out that the strategy does not provide an adequate whole of government approach to stabilising and increasing koala numbers as recommended by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineers.

Koalas are an iconic part of Wollondilly’s natural history with the first recorded European sighting of a koala occurring near Bargo in 1798.

Increasing numbers of koalas have been recorded at a range of locations within the Wollondilly LGA in recent years, with an estimated population of 350 to 400 individuals.

In the past two years, Council has been advocating for the protection of koala habitat corridors in the Wilton and Appin growth areas.

The terms of reference for the inquiry include the status of koala populations and koala habitat in NSW, including trends, key threats, resource availability, inadequacy of protections and areas for further research.

Submissions closed earlier this month and Wollondilly’s submission is one of nearly 300 that were received. A final report is due on 15 June 2020.