Plan to hold summit to discuss koala protection

Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

A Wollondilly councillor is calling for a collaborative approach on the protection of Macarthur’s koalas.

Michael Banasik believes it is time for government representatives, politicians, ecologists and wildlife advocates to come together and put a policy in place to protect the local chlamydia-free koala populations.

Cr Banasik wants Wollondilly Council to hold a koala summit, similar to the forum held on Thirlmere Lakes last year.

“We need to get experts on koalas around the table,” he said.

“Mass development in Appin and Wilton is coming and koalas continue to get hit by cars – clearly something has to done to protect koalas.”

Cr Banasik said the summit would allow everyone to talk about the preservation of corridors in development areas and the effectiveness and feasibility of overpasses and underpasses.

“I would like Wollondilly Council to take a leadership role and continue to be a strong advocate for the local koalas,” he said.

“Hopefully policies or protocols can be developed down the track.”

Cr Banasik said the summit on Thirlmere Lakes worked well to raise the issues of mining with the state government and in October last year, the state government announced a $1.9 million research program.

The councillor hopes a similar outcome can be achieved.

The councillor raised the idea at the council meeting on Monday night. Councillors and staff will now plan the summit at a workshop.

Wollondilly councillors have previously been strong advocates for the protection of koalas.

They are concerned the development in a newly rezoned precinct at Wilton New Town will completely decimate the koala population in Wilton.

The development is proposed to cut through Allens Creek Corridor at Wilton, which is a significant corridor for Wollondilly’s koala population.

Residents are being asked to sign the council’s petition for the rezoning to be repealed and replaced with a zoning that protects the koalas’ habitat.

Wildlife advocates in Campbelltown are also attempting to prevent the region’s koalas becoming collateral damage of the housing boom.

The council commissioned a study which recommended that staff advocate for the establishment of at least three east to west corridors and the provision of three fauna and koala overpass crossings along Appin Road. 

Wildlife exclusion fencing and koala grids across all driveways and intersections were also recommended.

The state government has failed to respond to the council’s request for immediate funding to create and build the crossings.

Campbelltown MP Greg Warren believes the state government’s new strategy to provide more natural habitat for koalas, tackle diseases, improve research and fix roadkill hotspots is inadequate.

“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.”

The council will likely invite state and federal MPs, neighbouring councils, representatives from Office of Environment and Heritage, Department of Planning, Roads and Maritime Services, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Total Environment Centre, local environment groups and koala activists.