NEFA analysis claims only 2% of high quality habitat has been set aside as koala reserves.
NEFA analysis claims only 2% of high quality habitat has been set aside as koala reserves. Che Chapman

Strategy offers 'no substantial' koala protection: NEFA

CONSERVATIONISTS are claiming the Berejiklian Government's new strategy to save the dwindling koala population will offer no new significant protection, saying only 2% of high quality habitat has been set aside as koala reserves.

The North East Forest Alliance has come forward saying it has analysed maps of the 24,000ha of forest the government plans to use for its koala reserve system.

The NSW Koala Strategy, released last month, will invest $44.7m over three years in attempt to stabilise and increase the koala population which has plummeted by 26% in the last three generations (15-21 years).

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Around $20m will be put towards purchasing land for koala reserves and $24.7m will be spent on actions including community workshops, research, fixing road kill hotspots, build wildlife hospitals and more.

However NEFA has claimed 82% of the government's planned new koala reserves are already protected in forest reserves, meaning there is no substantial new protection.

"It is fraudulent for the NSW Government to pretend that these are new Koala Reserves. There are many state forests known to be far more important for koala that the Government has ignored," NEFA spokesperson Dailin Pugh said.

"The selection of these areas has been a cynical political exercise with no attempt to identify and protect the most important koala habitat on state forests, with the only apparent criteria being to have no impacts on timber."

The NSW Koala Strategy has been criticised in particular for ignoring the Great Koala National Park proposal, a plan put forward by the National Parks Association which would see 175,000 ha of state forest added to existing protected areas to form a 315,000ha reserve.

To be located in the Coffs Harbour hinterland, the proposal also includes the construction of a koala hospital in the area however it has been announced by the State Government a koala hospital will be built in Port Stephens.

"The government's own mapping shows the importance of the Great Koala National Park proposal, yet the government plans to implement an intensive harvesting zone that will see koala habitat destroyed over large areas and reduced forests to monocultures of blackbutt between Grafton and Taree," NPA Senior Ecologist Oisin Sweeney said.

The Office of Environment and Heritage has been approached for comment.