Koalas are one of Australia's most iconic animals, recognisable around the world. However, koala populations are under increasing pressure and have declined in NSW by an estimated 26% in the last 15-20 years. Without significant intervention, this level of decline is likely to continue.
The NSW Government has an ambitious goal of securing threatened species in the wild for the next 100 years. The NSW Koala Strategy sets out the first phase of actions to stabilise priority koala populations in NSW. It provides a starting point to achieve our longer-term goal of increasing koala numbers across the State.
The NSW Koala Strategy fulfils the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer's recommendation to deliver a strategy using the best available science. It also responds to feedback received from the NSW community on the scope of the Strategy and the draft Saving Our Species (SOS) Iconic Koala Project.
Key elements of the Strategy
The Strategy identifies a set of actions that will be committed to over the next 3 years and involves working with the whole community.
These actions will be delivered under 4 pillars:
- koala habitat conservation
- conservation through community action
- safety and health of koala populations
- building our knowledge and education
The Strategy will build on the work implemented through the Saving our Species Iconic Koala Project through aligning efforts across all government agencies much more broadly. The Strategy will also benefit other native species and NSW landscapes through actions that include:
- setting aside more than 20,000 hectares of state forest on the Central Coast, Southern Highlands, North Coast, Hawkesbury and Hunter with koala habitat as new koala reserves
- transferring over 4000 hectares of native forest on the Mid North Coast with koala habitat to the national parks estate
- $20 million from the NSW Environmental Trust to purchase land with prime koala habitat that can be permanently reserved as national parks
- fixing priority road-kill hotspots across NSW
- creating a network of koala and wildlife hospitals
- delivering a single wildlife rescue call number
Through these actions, we are committing to working with the whole community to protect koala populations.
After 3 years we will monitor the outcomes of the initial actions and adapt as we go to make sure we are delivering the best actions to protect koala populations.
How to get involved in helping koalas
There are many opportunities for the community to get involved in helping save the koala and other threatened species. For example, volunteering at a national park, joining a community group or becoming a wildlife carer.
You could also come and join us as a citizen scientist and assist the NSW Government in monitoring the success of the Strategy's actions.
The NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer's review
In March 2016, the NSW Government asked the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane AC, to undertake a review into the decline of koala populations in key areas of New South Wales.
The NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer's report outlines some of the major issues requiring attention if we are to reverse the decline in koalas. The NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer has made 11 recommendations.
The NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer's recommendations propose the development of a whole-of-government NSW Koala Strategy using the best available science to:
- improve data and mapping
- improve outcomes for koalas through changes to the planning system and native vegetation regulation
- investigate models for guiding and encouraging best practice
- prioritise areas of land for conservation management, and
- develop a series of actions to improve collaboration and information exchange amongst government, researchers, land managers and the community.
Read the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer's Report of the Independent Review into the Decline of Koala Populations in Key Areas of NSW and supporting papers.
From December 2016 to March 2017, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage sought feedback from the community on how to develop an effective NSW Koala Strategy though several public engagement activities.
Members of the community and stakeholder groups were invited to tell us what action, or research, they think needs to be undertaken to stabilise and then start to increase koala numbers in NSW.
The community's feedback on what should be included in the Strategy is vital to building a strong Strategy. To support community engagement in this process, OEH ran 7 community information sessions, hosted an online public information session and invited written submissions. Input was taken through an online submission form, by email and by post.
The government also invited community feedback on the draft Saving our Species Iconic Koala Project, which sets out a framework for on-ground koala conservation actions for 2016-21. We received a total of 4080 submissions on developing the NSW Koala Strategy.