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Jun 22, 2015 12:48 EDT

The Great Koala National Park: a grand plan to secure the future of our koalas before it is too late

iCrowdNewswire - Jun 22, 2015

The Great Koala National Park

The story of the project

Our koalas are in serious trouble. Numbers in NSW have plummeted by a third in just twenty years. The Great Koala National Park is a grand plan to secure the future of our koalas before it is too late. Part of a strategic koala reserve plan, the new park will include two internationally significant koala metapopulations, estimated to contain almost 20% of the state’s remaining wild koalas. This significant new national park can be created by combining 175,000 ha of state forest with 140,000 ha of existing protected area in the Coffs Harbour region, to form a 315,000 ha refuge for our koalas.

Our proposal is backed by extensive research by individuals and organisations on the NSW north coast including the Bellingen Environment Centre, Clarence Environment Centre, Nambucca Valley Conservation Association Inc., the North Coast Environment Council and the North East Forest Alliance.

This spectacular landscape hosts lush World Heritage rainforests, some of the world’s most diverse towering eucalypt forests, and an array of threatened species, such as the Hastings River Mouse, Powerful Owl and Spotted-tailed Quoll. By establishing the Great Koala National Park we would be protecting not only our iconic koala, but the ecosystems and species that share their home.


Why we need the Great Koala National Park

Habitat loss and fragmentation due to land clearing and urban development has already resulted in koalas disappearing from 75% of their former range in NSW. Most of the remaining high quality koala habitat lies in state forests and on private land where clearing of native vegetation and logging is leading to the removal of vital food and habitat trees. In the future the changing climate will serve to further exacerbate these threats.  

Despite the global status of the koala as the second most recognised animal in the world after the Giant Panda, no national conservation reserve has been set aside to ensure the species long-term protection. By contrast, China has established a national park covering one million hectares of bamboo forest to protect their Pandas.

Large and well-managed protected areas remain the single most effective tool to conserving species and their habitat. The Great Koala National Park, which forms part of a strategic koala reserve plan, is the best chance for our koalas to have a secure future in NSW.

In addition to protecting our national icon, the Great Koala National Park will serve as a haven for a wealth of other threatened and native species and protect the towering forests in which they live. 

But it’s not just our environment that will benefit. A Great Koala National Park will also provide long-term, sustainable economic and cultural benefits to surrounding communities such as Bellingen, Coffs Harbour and Dorrigo. In addition, the park will provide less visible but vital benefits, such as safeguarding water supplies and carbon storage.

The new park will contribute to the conservation of key species and habitat forming part of the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative (GER), one of the world’s largest conservation projects. GER is working with communities and organisations to reconnect 3,600km of land from Victoria to Far North Queensland. The Great Koala National Park, together with the other parks in our reserve plan, will make a particularly important contribution to two of GER’s priority partnership areas, the Border Ranges Alliance and the Jaliigirr Biodiversity Alliance.

How the funds will be used

A donation to Pozible will go directly to funding the advocacy work involved in getting the Great Koala National Park established.

This will include:
1. Assisting with the development of a transition plan for the native forest industry.
2.Commissioning an economic analysis of the park proposal.
3. Continuing to raise awareness of the plight of koalas amongst the broader Australian public through social and online media, the creation of educational videos and media engagement.
4. Applying for grants to conduct additional on-ground survey work.
5. Holding meetings with key politicians and conservation organisations.


Stretch Goals

If we receive donations over and above our $10,000 target we will stretch our campaign to include the following important elements:

$15,000 – $20,000
– Establish ecotourism partnerships to lead tours through Great Koala National Park
– Host a forum to engage community, tourism and recreational stakeholders in the development of the park.

$20,000 – $25,000
– Donation of $5,000 to support the conservation of the koala in other important locations on the Far South Coast and central west

$25,000 +
– Funds to support the planting of habitat and feed trees for koalas on private land by landholders and/or local government efforts.

Aspirational $1,000,000 goal
– Purchasing of key parcels of land identified as core koala habitat in the Coffs Harbour government area.

Some of my other work

For over 58 years the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) has been a strong community voice advocating for our national parks and wildlife. We know what is involved to get new protected areas proclaimed and with our 16 branches, hundreds of active volunteers and over 20,000 supporters we have the capacity to reach a broad audience and enact change.

In 2012, with public donations we mounted one of the largest and most successful community campaigns in recent times against the government’s proposal to allow unsupervised recreational hunting in our national parks. Last year, our Sydney Marine Park campaign met with success after both the NSW Greens and NSW Labor demonstrated their support for the park, and NSW Coalition committing to conducting a study into new conservation areas for the Sydney region. To view some of the other campaigns we are currently working on visit www.npansw.org.au


The biggest challenge of the Great Koala National Park is persuading the NSW Government to recognise that the economic and social benefits of the park far outweigh any potential losses to forestry. Although few forestry jobs remain in this region, we recognise that a transition from forestry is a source of concern for some people and will require good planning and community engagement. Part of our campaign work will therefore involve developing a transition plan for the native forest industry. We will also commission an economic analysis of the park proposal to ensure its long-term viability. We strongly believe that any potential job losses will be offset by the excellent tourism and recreation benefits the park will provide.

Another key challenge will be to ensure that the National Parks and Wildlife Service are provided with sufficient resources to effectively manage the new park. Part of our work will be to continue to work closely with, and advocate for the department to ensure they get the resources needed.

For more information visit www.koalapark.org.au

Contact Information:

National Parks Association of NSW Inc.
Kevin Evans
Ashley Love
Tandi Spencer-Smith

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