Great Outcomes from the #SaveOurKoalas Summit

Warragamba Panorama

Great Outcomes from the #SaveOurKoalas Summit

Posted on: 13.09.2018

Wollondilly Shire Council’s #SaveOurKoalas Summit has been hailed a huge success, bringing further attention to the plight of the local koala population and rallying industry experts, departmental representatives, politicians and community advocates to continue the important work of ensuring the future of these unique disease-free koalas.

Over 100 participants attended the much anticipated Summit on Tuesday, meeting together at the Appin Community Hall to discuss the threats to the koala population of the Greater Macarthur region.
The event was attended by special guests including Shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage, the Hon Penny Sharpe, Member for Campbelltown Greg Warren, Councillor Karress Rhodes representing the Mayor of Liverpool, and Wollondilly Councillors Noel Lowry, Matt Deeth and Michael Banasik.

Speakers and panel experts focussed on the key issues impacting local koalas, with presentations from World Wildlife Fund, Total Environment Centre, Department of Planning and Environment, Office of Environment and Heritage, and Macarthur National Parks Association as well as Wollondilly Council.

Mayor Judith Hannan said, “The response to the Summit was extremely positive, with the attendees in agreement that the future of these disease-free koalas should be of the highest priority for all levels of government.”
“The koalas can’t speak for themselves, so we need to ensure that they are protected and can continue to thrive in the wild.”

“The support of the community for our recent koala petition has been overwhelming, and the Summit is another step in the endeavour to protect our valuable koala habitat,” she said.

Attendees at the Summit unanimously agreed on a declaration to take the cause to the next stage, which states, “The koala population within the Greater Macarthur region is the largest chlamydia free population in New South Wales and is accordingly of state and national significance. We feel that this Australian icon is deserving of the highest priority conservation and management efforts by all levels of government and the community.”

“We are committed to working together as land owners and residents, government agencies and councils, developers and the broader community to deliver integrated conservation management actions to protect koalas and their habitat corridors for generations to come.”

In an important week for koalas, Mayor Judith Hannan announced at the Summit that Wollondilly Shire Council and Walker Corporation had entered into a Deed of Agreement to ensure ongoing protections are in place for Macarthur’s important koala colony, and to protect the Allen’s Creek koala corridor at Wilton.
The Deed of Agreement outlines a number of actions that will support sustainable development at South
East Wilton and provide a positive impact on the koalas living in nearby bushland.

These actions include koala fencing, a habitat restoration plan, upgrades to culverts to allow safe crossings under roads, clear signage of habitat areas, permanent warning signs on Picton Road, resident information brochures and a koala monitoring program.

The result of widespread community support, along with months of negotiation and hard work by the Council and Walker Corporation, the agreement will set a benchmark for koala protections that Walker will follow across all development in the region.

Council’s #SaveOurKoalas petition, which reached over 13,000 signatures, is scheduled to be discussed in State Parliament on 27 September.