Sydney Knitting Nannas has formed a Koala Team to research koalas, write letters to politicians, and help organise rallies with other groups. Koalas need large areas of undisturbed land to survive. Logging and land clearing for development are destroying their habitat in NSW.
Initially the group formed because of the plight of the koala population associated with Lendlease’s Mount Gilead development project at Campbelltown. Stage One was approved by the former federal government.
This week the Nannas Koala Team wrote to the new Federal Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek, requesting she not approve both Lendlease’s Stage Two, and the Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan.
Stage Two of the Mount Gilead development threatens a thriving population of chlamydia-free koalas, which will possibly not survive until a new Environmental Protection Agency is established. As one of the few koala populations left in Sydney all efforts should be made to save it.
Neither the Chief Scientist’s Report nor the relevant experts’ opinions were appropriately followed in the approval of Stage One, as no wildlife corridors were saved for the koalas to move through. Offsets distant from the site were used to allow destruction of habitat. This destruction included the felling of at least 80 old established trees within the Lendlease site in January 2022. The underpasses that were recommended to be built under Appin Rd for the koalas seem to have no date or certainty.
This occurred at the same time as koalas were declared an endangered species!
The recently finalised Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan facilitates growth in Western Sydney to 2056 and beyond. Getting this Plan right is vitally important for the survival of koalas and other wildlife. It too must follow the recommendations of the Chief Scientist, particularly in providing five east-west wildlife corridors of a minimum width of 390 – 425 metres. However, the Plan as it stands makes provision for only one. It also, we believe, fails Federal Government commitments on protecting our biodiversity, as it proposes that 80% of koala habitat will be removed. Koalas need suitable habitat now, not in the time it takes it to grow from planting.
There is absolutely no place for the concept of offsetting any koala habitat. Every bit counts, especially in this geographically very significant area between the Georges and the Nepean Rivers, where koalas have established movement corridors for themselves which must be kept open for the colony to continue to expand and thrive.
Time is of the essence. In this era of increasing species extinctions, every koala population is worth saving.