PROTESTERS congregated with tiny black coffins and flowers outside the Ballina RSL in aid of koalas as the second hearing began in an inquiry which aims to collate the challenges facing the species.

North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Dailan Pugh spoke to protesters about the rapid decline of the North Coast population which has seen a 50 per cent decline in the last 20 years.

 

He also called on an emergency response for koalas, who have suffered in the recent bushfires in Rappville, and now face the challenge of finding water as well as food.

He said the fire had wiped out much of the area and potentially 350-700 koalas now faced terrible conditions and would have trouble accessing food as the fire had dehydrated and made inedible leaves in the crown of the tree.

"A week after the fires devastated one of our most important koala populations on the north coast there is still no attempt to rescue the survivors," he said.

"While those koalas who took refuge in the few remaining tall trees survived the fire front, the heat of the under storey fire destroyed the canopy, leaving koalas with dry leaves to eat.

"They are starving to death while the government procrastinates."

He called on the NSW Government to heed calls to protect and rehabilitate the koalas homes.

"Conservationists have made detailed submissions, and will be presenting evidence, to the inquiry though believe that wild koalas can only be saved from extinction if there is a seismic shift in government attitudes", he said.

"Yet the government treats them, and their plight, with the utmost contempt by bulldozing highways through their homes, rezoning them for housing, removing protections from logging, and granting a free-for-all exemption for land clearing.

"The government's cynical creation of koala reserves where there are no koalas are not redressing the basic need of caring for habitat."