HOLDING ON: Koala numbers were discussed during a summit in Bellingen last week.
HOLDING ON: Koala numbers were discussed during a summit in Bellingen last week. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Koala protection on the agenda at summit

BELLINGEN was the venue for a major koala summit for the conservation movement on Friday.

Fears that the koala could become extinct within a lifetime brought together 25 representatives of conservation groups from throughout the North Coast and south-east Australia to ensure this does not happen.

It is the first time all these groups have come together to focus on threats to the koala.

Those meeting included the chief executive officers of the NSW National Parks Association and the Nature Conservation Council of NSW as well as representatives of the North East Forest Alliance and Friends of the Koala.

Nature Conservation Council communications manager James Tremain said the Ballina bypass for the Pacific Hwy threatened a critical source population for the koala on the North Coast and more pervasive threats included urban and industrial development in fringe areas.

The proposed Great Koala Park, based at Pine Creek, was also on the agenda for the meeting.

"Koala population dynamics are quite complex," Mr Tremain said.

Population numbers on the East Coast fell by 40% between 1990 and 2010, and in other areas like the Pilliga Forest, the population has crashed by 70% in 10 years.

"It is clear if these trends continue and dramatic action is not taken to protect and connect habitat remnants, the koala will become extinct in the wild in NSW, possibly in our lifetime," Mr Tremain said.

Mr Tremain said the way the triple bottom line planning system worked, the economic impact of developments tended to outweigh environmental issues.



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