More national parks will not help koalas

The Member for Oxley, Melinda Pavey MP, says the answer to concerns about mid north coast koalas does not involve converting more State Forest to National Park.

Mrs Pavey said the current unscientific scramble by the Labor-Green Alliance will just repeat the mistakes of its past.

“A few people might get all starry-eyed, but simply changing tenures doesn’t do much for Koalas,” Mrs Pavey said.

“There are now 2.4 million hectares of National Parks, Conservation Areas and Nature Reserves in our region, and these areas are meant to be conserving our biodiversity.

“Whereas the timber industry now has access to just 400,000 hectares of State Forest in northern coastal NSW; only 1-2% of this is used in any one year, and large areas of habitat are preserved in corridors throughout these forests.”

Mrs Pavey said that landholders know the National Park Estate is under-managed for key threatening processes of wild dogs, wildfire, scrub invasion and eucalypt decline – all causing koala habitat degradation.

“The question is: what will more park-land actually achieve?”

“I think we need to know if the National Park Estate is being actively managed and is actually making a positive and lasting contribution to threatened species survival - before we even think about it having more land.”

Mrs Pavey said the community must look at the actual performance of the conservation estate in achieving real outcomes - just enlarging it does not automatically deliver good conservation outcomes.

As such, the NSW Government is instead developing a sophisticated, whole-of-government NSW Koala Strategy, with the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane AC.

This strategy must address the range of core true issues:

* properly managing the existing conservation estate for koalas

* stronger actions on reducing dog threats

* better fire and wildfire management

* introducing multiple multi-function koala sanctuaries  to provide hospital, breeding, re-homing and re-population services for koala recovery.

“I really do think it’s time for a mature, factual, science-based and constructive discussion about forestry, our forest estate and koalas – not just more land tenure changes.”