Saturday, 8 February 2020

The Future of Koalas

How will you remember wild koalas when they are extinct? 
What will you tell your kids or grandchildren about koalas in the wild? 
When was the last time, in fact, that you saw a koala in the wild?

This week the Legislative Council inquiry into koala populations and habitat in New South Wales sat in Coffs Harbour to hear local testimony.

Greens Cate Faehrmann MP chairs the inquiry and heads up the difficult task of comprehensively reviewing koalas in NSW... also now in light of this summers fires. 

The inquiry has heard from scientists and environmentalists a confronting picture for NSW's remaining wild koala populations. According to North East Forest Alliance, a 2012 expert panel estimated that koala population in the north coast had declined by 50% in the past 20 years, leaving an extant populations of around 8,400 koalas. NEFA have recently called on the Inquiry to support calls for a moratorium on logging all suitable koala habitat!

Cate Faehrmann late last year warned Premier Gladys Berejiklian that evidence from ecologists has found koalas killed by the fires could be as high as 60-70%.

The future of wild koalas is seriously in peril.

Labor's Deputy Leader in the Legislative Council Penny Sharpe also sits on the inquiry has said "extinction is no longer theoretical, in some places it has already happened."

So what can we do?                           

Science tells us that mining, urban expansion, logging, feral animals, climate change and disease are all threats to the koala.

NSW planning laws have historically favoured developers but the new Koala Habitat Protection SEPP (starting March 2020) seems to challenge this by increasing the list of tree species from 10 to 123. Could a review of Coffs Harbour Council's Koala Plan of Management make a difference?

But what about the logging of our native forests?

Can koala habitat be sustained under the new Regional Forestry Agreement which has:
  • increased the amount of wood that can sourced 
  • removed the need to look for koalas prior to logging
  • permits intensive clearfelling from Grafton to Taree
  • reduced stream buffers from 10m to 5m
How can one person or political group help STOP the Extinction Crisis with more than 1000 animal and plant species at risk of extinction in NSW alone with koalas predicted to be extinct by 2050?

In light of all this... the Greens are the target of disinformation and community anger for attempting to head off this arterial bleed. 

If you are still reading then its clear you care and are searching for answers.

Its not just government policy and laws that need to immediately change... we all need to immediately review what we value.

Why Values are Important 

Power, competition, security, growth, prestige, status, image, fame, wealth and achievement dominate our political and media landscape.

These extrinsic values have been found to overwhelm voter attention when elections return because of how the political machinery influences our decisions.

Yet it is intrinsic values such as self-direction, independent thought and action, cooperation, kindness, understanding, connectedness, self-acceptance, tolerance, compassion and empathy that should also occupy our thoughts during the election cycle.

Research by Common Cause Foundation, revels when political parties dilute or abandon their values and adopt the values, phrases and stories of their opponents, they change the environment in which they operate. This also works in reverse!

If our aim is to create a kinder world for koalas then we need to embed in Australia's political system stories where intrinsic values promote this aim.

In other words, we need to break the fear machine at election time and strengthen our intrinsic values rather than engaging in the same tactics!

The future of koala populations is going to be critical for human survival because of the interconnected nature of ecosystems. So lets strengthen our intrinsic value system for the advancement of koalas and better human-Earth relations.

Taking time each day to identify with your intrinsic values will empower you to act for the betterment of our world. The future of koalas needs each of us and cannot rely on parliament or planning changes alone.

How do you find strength and trust in your intrinsic values? 
Can you imagine koala populations in 2050 thriving in NSW? 
Can you hear the sounds of young males grunting across the many valleys and ridges?

Coffs Harbour Greens want to see koala populations thrive into the future, as does everyone, and to do that we need to ask deeper questions of our economy and how our culture dominates nature. Is anyone winning when we are about to lose so much!   

See here for a basic framing of values and Common Cause Foundation Report!

Koala Image Credit : Lincoln Head