After a yearlong inquiry into koala populations and habitat in New South Wales, Portfolio Committee No. 7 – Planning and Environment has tabled and published its final report. The committee made 42 recommendations and 16 findings, which are now with the NSW Government to review and respond to by the end of the year.

Given the devastating effects of 2019-2020 summer bushfires, one of the committee’s key findings was that koalas in NSW are on track to become extinct by 2050 without urgent government intervention. On what should be done, the committee urged the NSW Government to prioritise the protection of koala habitat and wildlife corridors in the midst of a warming climate. This recommendation was supported by a finding that habitat loss and fragmentation present the most significant threat to the survival of koalas in NSW.

So how many koalas live in the wild in New South Wales? The committee found that the current estimated number of 36,000 koalas in the State was outdated and unreliable, and sadly, the real figure is probably much lower. However, determining an accurate estimate of the koala population is particularly challenging, as koalas are not easy to spot! To help address this, the committee recommended that a panel of experts devise the best way to map koalas, and to consider emerging technologies such as drones to help locate koalas in fire grounds in need of rescue.

The committee travelled extensively across the State to hear from local communities, experts and stakeholders, about the multitude of issues that intersect with koala conservation. More than half of the hearings were held outside Parliament House, in community halls and centres across Ballina, Campbelltown, Gunnedah, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour.

Campbelltown site visit
Portfolio Committee No. 7 at a site visit in Campbelltown

The report is a hefty one with over 300 pages and we couldn’t possibly summarise it all in this short blog post. We recommend you check it out here and provide your thoughts in the comments section below.

On behalf of the committee, thank you to the thousands of inquiry participants who contributed to the committee’s important work of ensuring that the koala survives and thrives in the wild in NSW!

6 thoughts on “Committee reports: Koala populations and habitat

  1. Give koalas endangered status. Protect ALL their habitat. All wood for construction, furniture or paper products should come from already established plantations.

  2. How much more does this state government need to stop the logging and development in known koala habitats. We are about to lose more habitat in SW Sydney around Campbelltown, the only disease free koala colony and still Lend Lease can go ahead and bulldoze many trees, trees that are food and shelter for the koalas.

  3. Wild NSW koalas will become extinct in decades without urgent action by the state government. If you put it to a referendum, people want this loved Aussie icon to still live wild & free. This means significant, urgent changes to land, planning, forestry & environmental laws, not lip service. After the 2019/2020 fires, developments that have been green-lighted may need to be re-thought & withdrawn. Koalas are an umbrella species & conservation of native forests will benefit multiple other species. Act now, act quickly, before it is too late, otherwise the writing is on the wall: wild koalas will become extinct on our watch.

  4. The drones sound like a great way to get a more honest count of the numbers of existing koalas. Personally I am sick of the talkfest and no action. I saw the koala go extinct on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. The governments seem to have a whole other agenda when it comes to saving this iconic animal. A great way of saving these animals would be to map where they are and take serious steps to establish tracts of land that join, and replant with the necessary feed trees.

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