From the western edge of Sydney, spreading outwards north, south and west – there are little-known, but irreplaceable Koala colonies. Now officially classified as “endangered” under state and federal legislation, they are facing extinction in a few decades – unless we act!
Koalas have declined in the Sydney Basin Bioregion by an estimated 22% in the last 20 years. Protection of remaining habitat, including near urban areas, in proposed urban expansion sites, and on public, leased and private lands - is critical. Recent Yougov polling found 84% of NSW residents want koala habitat protected from development and 91% support the creation of a koala green belt around Sydney. Our urban and regional areas must marshal all available legal, financial, community and scientific resources to protect their habitat and linking corridors on public and private lands, so Koalas can survive.
The Sydney Basin contains seven areas of koala significance (ARKS) which face multiple threats, but only five of those have surviving colonies. We will be focusing our efforts on protecting these 5 remaining colonies:
- Southern Tablelands/Wingecarribee
- Hunter Valley/Lake Macquarie/Cessnock
- Blue Mountains
Join The Cause!
We have calculated that we need to raise $45,000 to campaign this issue effectively. We launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money. Spreading the word about this campaign through your network can make all the difference. Can you share this email with your network or like and share our posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or through email (we have written one for you to use)? Now is the time to step up for Koalas, but we can only do this with your support! Join the cause today.
2023 Sydney Basin Koala Campaign
What action is needed to save Sydney Basin's Koalas?
With the March NSW Election on the horizon, voters living in the region should know what the political parties and independent candidates should do to save our neighbouring Koala colonies from extinction.
Our Sydney Basin Koala Policy below has been released in time for the NSW State Election, and we will be campaigning throughout 2023, whoever wins. Our 5-point policy outlines the steps needed to halt their trajectory from endangered to extinct. The Sydney Basin Koala Policy uses the best science and is intended to close the litany of loopholes in the law governing development, that is pushing the Koala towards extinction. Until we can stop the clearing of habitat and allow the colonies to stabilise and expand, it will be death by a thousand cuts.
There is a chance to turn their fate around and create immediate impact to stop the decline of koala populations across the state:
SAVE THE 5 REMAINING COLONIES: The Sydney Basin Bioregion was once home to many healthy Koala populations – but now just five colonies are left and heading for extinction. This is due to the massive 19/20 bushfires, ongoing mining, logging and urban development – UNLESS WE ACT NOW!
MAKE KOALAS A NSW STATE ELECTION ISSUE: We are making the protection of koala habitat a NSW State Election issue and are working hard with local communities to obtain the best policies from major party and independent candidates. We will also be releasing a report card on key party and independent candidate election policies in March. This is urgent as the Election is on March 25.
KOALA GREENBELT: We are campaigning for a Koala Greenbelt around the western edge of our biggest city, Sydney, to permanently protect Koala habitat. This will also be a great natural and green space asset to Western Sydney.
CLOSE LEGAL LOOPHOLES THAT ENDANGER KOALAS: Over the coming months, we will push for ending legal loopholes allowing clearing of habitat by:
Ensuring all koala habitat is mapped by the end of 2023 to identify key areas for conservation.
Reform laws to deliver certain protection and strong safeguards for koalas in all environmental, planning and land clearing legislation.
How we are fighting for Sydney Basin Koalas
Total Environment Centre has been campaigning for the protection of the Koala for many years. Our campaign ramped up with Save Sydney's Koalas, focused on the healthy, but threatened Macarthur colony on the western edge of Sydney; and recently with the development of the Sydney Basin Koala Network, which aims to protect and expand Koala populations across the larger Sydney Basin Bioregion. We are now focused on protecting those five important colonies.
- 25 August: We released an open letter signed by 25 NGO's to reform the Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan and are calling our supporters to send a letter to Minister for Environment, Penny Sharpe and Minister for Planning, Paul Scully. You can do so here!
- 30 May: We spoke out against the Limeburners Creek clearing which is a Key Koala Refuge and Corridor.
- 11 April: We spoke out against the Gilead Stage 2 Biodiversity Certification at the Campbelltown council meeting. The Gilead development removes habitat and cuts corridors necessary to connect the primary Koala corridors of the Nepean River to the Georges River. Protection of this vital Koala corridor is essential if Koalas are to survive in NSW. You can read our two objections to the approval of Campbelltown council to act as the applicant for Lendlease's Biodiversity Certification here (7 April 2023) and here (14 February 2023). Sydney Basin Koala Network also released a statement on the impacts of Stage 2 Mt Gilead on the local koalas based on their independent research. You can read it here. Even the NSW Department of Planning and Environment under the previous government has spoken out against this development, stating that "the proposal is inconsistent with advice and recommendations contained in the Office of Chief Scientist and Engineer (OCSE) Advice on the protection of the Campbelltown Koalas and the follow up reports (OCSE Koala reports) and TAP.". You can read their full letter here.
- 03 April: We spoke out against the new development in and around the Warragamba township where the well established knowledge that Koalas inhabit the area is either being ignored or downgraded, so there is little done to ensure their survival.
- 5 March: We are grateful that the wider community chose koalas when voting in the NSW election!
- 22 March: NSW State Election 2023: Environmental Policy Scorecard
- 21 March: NSW State Election: Koalas’ future at stake
- 20 March: Key Independent backs our Sydney Basin Koala Policy!
- 13 March: Australian Ethical divested $11m in shareholdings of Lendlease. Lendlease has continuously greenwashed the protection of koalas, in particular in a development known as Stage 2 Gilead. A development proposing over 3,000 additional houses in the heart of koala habitat. Australian Ethical said Lendlease failed to "provide critical information about the width of planned koala corridors", stating that they "cannot continue to support a company that appears to be failing to take biodiversity protection seriously." A major win in this campaign!
- 06 March: NSW ALP Promise: Koalas will be safer, faster
Sydney Basin Koala Policy
You can now read our full policy below, but if you wish to download a copy, you can do so here.
1. Protection of existing habitat, including a Koala Greenbelt around towns and cities
- Sydney Koala Greenbelt: a contiguous area via dedicating public land and supporting conservation on private land through both targeted private land conservation programs, acquisition and stricter clearing safeguards
- New conservation areas on public and private land in other parts of the bioregion
- Impose stricter controls on land clearing throughout the bioregion
- Exclude logging in koala habitat on private and public land
- Mandate the making of effective Koala Plans of Management across the bioregion's council areas, to be gazetted by 2024.
2. Maintaining, expanding and restoring linking corridors
- Mandate min 250m wide with average of 425m through strategic and local plans and planning policies generally
- Where there are Koala travel obstructions, work to remove or bypass them
- Plant local species used by Koalas to regenerate corridors and buffer zones.
3. Removing planning law loopholes that allow development to proceed
- Gazette an environmental veto (Koala gateway) for Koala habitat on all development applications, including state significant development, by bolstering safeguards in assessment and determination processes:
- Addressing ongoing concerns with the operation and implementation of the Koala SEPP
- Strengthening the ‘serious and irreversible impacts’ mechanism
- Prevent the use of offsets for development in the habitat of endangered and critically endangered species
- Improve community/environment appeal rights on developments
- Translocation of Koalas is not an alternative to allow clearing of habitat
- Review development applications, LEPs and strategic plans in train for Koala protection implications.
4. Avoiding vehicle, dog and fire threats, eg by fencing corridors and building underpasses
- Construct underpasses or land bridges at key danger points to enable Koala movement
- Fence corridors to protect Koalas from human-koala conflict, especially in habitat corridors adjoining high density urban development.
- Manage hazard reduction burns to prevent degradation of Koala trees and plan for escape routes from high intensity fires.
5. Continue scientific research that leads to practical solutions
- Upgrade surveys to monitor Koala colony generational persistence across all land tenures
- Ensure tree species planted for regeneration are suitable for the local population and are consistent with naturally occurring vegetation.