Civic leaders disappointed with new koala strategy

Civic leaders say the state government’s new koala strategy does little to preserve the region’s thriving koala population.

Campbelltown MP Greg Warren and Wollondilly mayor Judith Hannan are not impressed with the strategy because it does not go far enough to preserve the only disease-free koala colony in the state.

The state government announced a strategy to provide more natural habitat for koalas, tackle diseases, improve research and fix roadkill hotspots.

Picton Road is one hotspot location where new fences will be built to prevent koalas getting on the road and hopefully stop them being killed by motorists.

As part of the strategy, plans will be drawn up to protect koalas along Appin Road.

“The NSW Koala Strategy does not adequately address the importance of conserving the healthy koala population of south western Sydney,” Cr Hannan said.

“Wollondilly Council requests the state government prepare a conservation management plan to protect these koalas and their habitat corridors as a matter of urgency.”

The region’s unique koala population is estimated to number between 350 to 400, based on research carried out by University of Western Sydney professor Rob Close and comprehensive survey work coordinated by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage for the Wollondilly Koala Conservation Project.

A dead koala killed on Appin Road.

A dead koala killed on Appin Road.

There has been a series of social media posts in recent weeks showing koalas hit by cars along Appin Road.

Eight koalas have been killed by cars on Appin Road in the last two months.

Nine koalas were killed on Appin and Picton roads during the last two weeks of August 2017.

Mr Warren said the strategy included “no concrete plans to protect koalas along Appin Road”.

He said the strategy was evidence the state government was ignoring the urgent need to protect Campbelltown’s koala population ahead of large planned development to the south of Campbelltown which threatens the koala’s habitat.

“For the state government to launch a koala strategy that fails to recognise the significance of Campbelltown’s disease-free koala colony is absolutely appalling,” Mr Warren said.

“Unless the government acknowledges the problem and takes urgent action to protect our koalas, our local koala colony will continue to be decimated.

“Wildlife activists, the council and our community are all on the same page about the urgent need for overpasses/underpasses and exclusion fencing along Appin Road – when will the state government get the memo?”

Wollondilly Council’s environmental outcomes manager Alex Stengl said Allens Creek area in Wilton had been identified as a critical corridor for breeding koalas and also a koala road kill hotspot.

The mayor said the recent decision by the Department of Planning and Environment to rezone South East Wilton threatened to bisect the southern portion of the vital Allens Creek koala corridor.

The council executive are disappointed there was no funding assistance for the provision of koala care facilities in south western Sydney nor any announcement for additional funding for scientific research in the area.

To sign the council’s koala petition, visit: www.engage.wollondilly.nsw.gov.au/wilton-koala

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