A recent University of Newcastle report examined the economic and environmental benefits that could result from the creation of the proposed Great Koala National Park (GKNP) on the NSW Mid- North Coast.
Kevin Evans, spokesperson for the GKNP Steering Committee, said the research demonstrated “the Great Koala National Park would make a significant contribution to the NSW economy and be a major job boost for the Mid-North Coast region just when it is so desperately needed.”
Habitat loss is a major threat to survival of the koala as a species. The GKNP proposal was developed to increase koala habitat protection by adding 175,000 ha of native state forests to existing protected areas establishing a 315,000 ha reserve. This new park would stretch across the local government areas of Coffs Harbour, Clarence Valley, Bellingen, Nambucca and Kempsey protecting an area that is home to around 20 per cent of the NSW koala population.
The proposal was initiated by Mid-North Coast conservation groups who commissioned an independent scientific assessment by ecologist David Scotts of the public native forests that would need to be protected if we are to avoid koala extinction.
Mr Evans said the Newcastle University report included employment projections as forestry related jobs are transitioned over a ten-year period to park management and restoration through a government funded transition plan.
“We fully support a government funded industry transition,” he said.
He believes that as NSW currently obtains over 85% of its timber requirements from plantation sources, an investment in expanding this resource should be a priority.
The urgent need for improved protection of koala habitat was confirmed by last year’s NSW Legislative Council inquiry into koala habitat which found that koalas could become extinct in NSW by2050 unless effective action was taken. Significantly this inquiry said that the GKNP “has great merit”.
Mr Evans says that there is widespread community support for the proposal.
He wants the NSW Premier to live up to her promise of being the Premier to save our koala for future generations.