The Tweed Coast koala is at risk of becoming endangered.
The Tweed Coast koala is at risk of becoming endangered. John McCutcheon

Why Tweed must be included in NSW koala inquiry

ONE of Tweed's leading animal activists says it's "vitally important" Tweed Coast koala's are included in a NSW inquiry looking into the animal's population and welfare.

Earlier this week, the State Government announced an Upper House inquiry had been established to research and report on koala populations and habitat due to "grave concerns for the welfare of koalas in New South Wales".

Committee chair Cate Faehrmann MLC said the concern for koalas had been recognised and the committee wanted to "ensure that New South Wales benefits from an effective policy framework to ensure healthy, sustainable koala populations into the future."

The inquiry will look into the current status of koala populations, habit and existing policies around land management reform, forestry and the environment.

Team Koala president Jenny Hayes, who has long fought for the welfare of koalas in the region, said the State Government needed to recognise Tweed Coast koalas are on "the brink of extinction".

"It's exceptionally important, they're hanging on by a thread and have these massive developments going on through their habitat," she said.

"We're desperate to hang onto our last remaining koalas in the Tweed Shire so it's vitally important that the Tweed is recognised."

 

Team Koala. L to R Priya Hamsa, Jenny Hayes, Marie Jack.
Photo: John Gass  / Daily News
Team Koala's Priya Hamsa, Jenny Hayes, Marie Jack. John Gass /TWE030612koala

Ms Hayes said latest data shows there are between 50 and 250 koalas left in the Tweed region, and despite the Tweed Shire Council having "one of the strongest koala management plans" in NSW, more needed to be done to stop the Tweed Coast koala from becoming extinct.

"As amazing as koalas are, they're up against it, there are cars, dogs, chlamydia, diseases and their habitat is being taken away, there are so many things they're up against," she said.

Ms Hayes said a large number of koalas had been killed by vehicles speeding along Clothiers Creek Road, which runs in between koala habitat.

"We need people slowing down, we need stronger laws for our koalas because at the moment it's at a critically low level, this is our icon, this is part of who Australia is, this is our culture and we really need to stand up and say lets take these measures," she said.

"At dawn and dusk, people are racing through Clothiers Creek road, there needs to be speed cameras and people slowing down."

Ms Hayes and Team Koala were largely behind a decade long fight to protect koalas and their habitat at the planned Kings Forest estate.

Last month, the NSW Independent Planning Commission approved the developer's koala plan of management with conditions, with the final plan considered a massive win for koalas.

In July of last year, the State Government purchased 43ha of prime koala habitat in Pottsville to "ensure the survival of the Tweed Coast's koala population".

The $370,000 commitment will fund a holding facility for the rehabilitation of injured koalas and will allow researchers to conduct vaccine trials to help tackle chlamydia.

Funds will also be used to help grow a koala food tree plantation at the facility.