The State Government will spend $20 million to preserve koala populations in the Hunter through a private land purchase program designed to secure more protected habitat.
“Essentially, if you own good quality, occupied koala habitat that meets the criteria, the NSW Government is a willing buyer,” Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said
“This initiative is part of the NSW Government’s $44.7m commitment towards securing the future of koalas in the wild, which is the biggest commitment by any State Government to koala protection.”
The announcement follows the government’s sale of the six hectare Mambo Wetlands site in Port Stephens, an area of prime koala habitat, in 2016.
Port Stephens MP Kate Washington labelled the new announcement as a “last minute attempt to buy credibility from a government whose policies and actions are putting our koalas at risk of extinction”.
“Current estimates say wild koalas in Port Stephens could be gone within 10 years, but this government is only making the situation worse,” she said.
But Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald MLC said the program would help stabilise, increase koala numbers and conserve populations in the Hunter.
“It will permanently conserve koala habitat in the national parks system and ensure ongoing expert management of this important land,” Mr MacDonald said.
Liberal candidate for Port Stephens Jaimie Abbott thanked the government for its assistance.
“I continue to advocate for the protection and preservation of koala populations in Port Stephens. The sustainability of koala populations is a key priority for my local community and I look forward to continuing this focus as the next Member for Port Stephens,” Ms Abbott said.
Properties with good quality, occupied koala habitat situated near or adjoining the following areas will be considered:
- Gir-um-bit, Myall Lakes, Tomaree, Hunter Wetlands, Tilligerry, Worimi or Wallaroo National Parks
- Karuah, Tilligerry or Moffats Swamp Nature Reserves
- Tilligerry, Medowie or Gir-um-bit State Conservation Area.
Criteria for considering a property for purchase include:
- presence of koala habitat
- evidence of use by koalas
- good connection to surrounding native vegetation
- that reservation would improve the management of threats to koalas in that location
- the property must also be suitable for inclusion in the national parks system
Community groups and other interested stakeholders can also propose land with suitable koala habitat for inclusion in the national park estate.
Expressions of interest will remain open until 6 December 2018. Full details on criteria and locations can be found at: environment.nsw.gov.au