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:
- Goodman Ford/Wiarborough
- Goulburn/Shoalhaven west
- Hunter region North
- Hunter region south/Sydney region north/Central Coast region
2023 Sydney Basin Koala Campaign
Our work so far
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.
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 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, then it will be death by a thousand cuts. We are also proposing a Koala Greenbelt that will also be a great natural and green space asset to Western Sydney.
Our Sydney Basin Koala Policy has been released in time for the NSW State Election and we will be campaigning throughout 2023, whoever wins. We will also be releasing a report card on key party and independent candidate election policies in March.
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.