More than a koala can bear

THEY may be cute and cuddly but their days are numbered on the Coffs Coast.

Our local koala population is under threat of extinction, according to local ecologist and recently elected councillor Mark Graham.

Mr Graham has noticed a devastating reduction in our local koala numbers in recent times, a trend which he said is set to continue.

“There has been a major decline in the urban areas such as the Coffs Creek, Boambee and Toormina - about an 80-90 per cent decline,” Mr Graham said.

“Its days here are numbered.”

And it is not only our koalas that at risk.

Many endangered and vulnerable species that call the Coffs Coast home are dwindling in numbers.

“The eastern pygmy possum, the yellow-bellied glider and the spotted-tailed quoll are all marsupials that live in Coffs whose numbers have declined,” Mr Graham said.

“The Hogbin Drive extension had a considerable impact on the squirrel glider habitat, which are a vulnerable species.”

The news is also grim for our little green friends.

The Coffs Coast region has some of the most significant frog populations in Australia, some of which are under threat of extinction.

“There are an awful lot of threatened frog species in Coffs. In the Wallum wetlands there is the wallum froglet and the wallum sedge frog. Then in the ranges around Ulong and Lowanna there are a number of rainforest species at risk including the pouch frog.”

This dire prediction comes off the bat of a recent study on global biodiversity that has found the world is facing an animal extinction crisis.

One in five Australian mammal species is in danger of dying out, which is the highest proportion of any developed country.

The global survey of more than 44,000 animal and plant species was commissioned by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

“It's frightening,” Mr Graham said.

“This fact comes from the world's best environmental scientists. It is shameful that we continue to have the world's worst statistics.”

Australia already holds the world's record for mammal extinction.

“We don't learn from our mistakes,” Mr Graham said.

But it is not all bad news.

The assessment of the world's mammals shows that species can recover with concerted conservation efforts.

“We can stop clearing native vegetation,” Mr Graham said.

“That is the number one threat.

“We can also help by controlling weeds and feral animals such as foxes, cats, pigs and goats, being careful around waterways and not polluting them, and keeping dogs away from native animals and their habitats.”

“We have a lot of work to do but we can do it. There is a lot that can be done at a local level.”

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