Coffs koala park proposal gets government support
AFTER weeks of negotiations, NSW's Lower House has voted to support a motion to investigate the establishment of the Great Koala National Park (GKNP) in the Coffs Harbour hinterland.
This motion moved by Greens MP Jamie Parker also included the 41 other recommendations made in the recent inquiry into the state's koala population.
The inquiry found the marsupials will be extinct by 2050 without government intervention to protect koala habitat, particularly after the summer's destructive fires.
"Land clearing for agriculture, development, mining and forestry is the most serious threat to koala populations in NSW. Our koalas are in the midst of such a catastrophic habitat crisis that they will become extinct before 2050," Mr Parker said.
"This is a small but significant win that sets us on the path to save this species."
Coffs Coast forests were spared the worst of the bushfire season.
Coffs Harbour Green Convener Jonathan Cassell said because of this, the forests are critically important for animal population to recover and to maintain green links.
"Our forests are some of the last remaining hot spots for wildlife in NSW," Mr Cassell said.
"It is fantastic the government understands our calls for their protection."
The GKNP is a proposal to establish a 375,000ha national park on the Mid North Coast.
It would incorporate tourist attractions like a koala hospital, bushwalking and mountain biking tracks and 4WD tours, potentially bringing estimates of more than $300 million into the local economy, according to the National Parks Association.
The University of Newcastle is currently conducting an economic study into the GKNP to determine the potential for job creation, as well as the impact on job losses in the forestry industry.
The study has been jointly funded by Bellingen and Coffs Harbour councils.
The GKNP Information and Visitor Centre, which officially opened in Urunga in December last year, marked the first tangible step forward for the proposal.
"The Great Koala National Park is a positive plan to make sure our grandkids experience the wonders of the koala and our regions rich biodiversity," Mr Cassell said.