Cute Bellingen koalasWith a decision imminent on Bellingen Council’s Koala Plan of Management, the Greens are calling for all primary koala habitat identified in the Bellingen Council Koala Habitat Study to be protected.

Bellingen Council undertook to introduce a Koala Plan of Management in order to reverse the species alarming decline in one of the richest areas for koalas in NSW but appears set to approve a plan which leaves significant areas of high quality koala habitat unprotected. Land not protected by the Koala Plan of Management will be open to private native forestry operations.

Through a process including the preparation of an excellent study and two exhibitions the Council has gradually compromised its objective to protect koalas by giving into pressure to strictly limit the areas impacted.

As reported by the Bellingen Shire Courier-Sun:

The drastic reduction in Bellingen Shire Council’s Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management has sparked a fiery response from Greens MLC David Shoebridge.

His provocative attack question’s why the community should sign-off on a plan that sees 1,133ha of koala habitat protected when the original mapped area included 8,419ha of private land in the shire.

“Bellingen Shire Council undertook to introduce a Koala Plan of Management in order to reverse the species alarming decline in one of the richest areas for koalas in NSW but appears set to approve a plan which leaves significant areas of high quality koala habitat unprotected,” Mr Shoebridge said.

“Land not protected by the Koala Plan of Management will be open to private native forestry operations. Based on this faulty logic the council has re exhibited the draft Koala Plan of Management further reducing the area to be protected by 40 per cent.”

koalaMr Shoebridge claims despite a study and two exhibitions the council has gradually compromised its objective to protect koalas by giving into pressure to strictly limit the areas impacted.

“The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has made clear in its advice to council that if koala habitat is not identified under the Koala Plan of Management then it will remain open to logging under private native forestry approvals,” Mr Shoebridge said.

“Omitting or delaying the protection of the core Koala Habitat to the west of the Never Never River will place this habitat in immediate peril.

“The Koala Habitat Management Study clearly stated that the protection of vegetation mapped as primary koala habitat is vital to halting the decline of koalas in the Mid North Coast.

“Protecting koala habitat through this Plan of Management is essential to ending the destructive impact of private native forestry operations.