“There is no doubt that there is wildlife decline on the Myall Coast and that this is due to destruction of habitat. That is particularly true for koalas.”
This was a comment by Myall Koala and Environment Group Secretary Ian Morphett to the latest figures on land clearing in NSW, released by Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian.
Ian was asked by News of The Area to comment on the survey which found that the latest land clearing data shows 75 hectares of wildlife habitat is bulldozed or logged every day in NSW, almost twice the average annual rate recorded before the Coalition overhauled nature laws in 2016.
Ian said: “In 1999, the NSW Scientific Committee declared the Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens koala population ‘endangered’, only one of two in NSW (the other was Pittwater). At that time the population was estimated to be about 10 Koalas. A Koala Recovery Plan was established in 2003 and over the next 10 years the Koala and Environment Group estimates that the population increased to about 22.”
The annual Statewide Land and Tree Study (SLATS) data shows 27,610 hectares of native forest were destroyed for farming, forestry and development in 2020.
Mr Gambian said this astounding rate of deforestation was a disaster for wildlife and the climate.
“We call on the government to take urgent action to reverse this trend,” he said.
“In just one year we have lost an area of native forest nearly double the size of the Royal National Park. It is simply unsustainable.
“Using widely accepted data on wildlife population densities, clearing on that scale would have killed up to 4.6 million animals, mammals, birds and reptiles, in 12 months.
He said that after the government weakened land clearing laws in 2016, deforestation rates doubled and had remained at these dangerously high levels ever since.
“The Coalition promised its new laws would enhance protections for bushland and wildlife. These figures and the rising number of threatened species show the laws completely failed to deliver on that promise.
“More than 1,040 plants and animals are now threatened with extinction in NSW, about 40 more than when the scheme was introduced.
“The government must stop uncontrolled deforestation on private land and in state forests if it is going to tackle the extinction crisis.
“The SLATS data show a 43% increase in the amount of vegetation cover lost in production forests, presumably due to the 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires.”