NEW HOME: The new national park will span more than 3600 hectares, north-west of Bowral.
NEW HOME: The new national park will span more than 3600 hectares, north-west of Bowral. Contributed

Bowral park not enough for koalas

A NEW NATIONAL park announced by the State Government this week is too little, too late for koalas, conservation groups say.

The park will span more than 3600 hectares 25 kilometres north-west of Bowral and is aimed to help protect koala numbers in the area.

Alongside the new park, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced $150million in funding to improve access to existing national parks.

"This includes major upgrade works in places like Sydney's Royal National Park and in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, making it easier for people to enjoy our wonderful natural beauty,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said this is a step toward ensuring the iconic creature's survival.

"The new national park will not only add to the State's conservation lands, it is yet another example of how the NSW Government is moving to protect and preserve the koala population.”

But conservation groups have come out against claims the park will make a dent in helping to keep koalas off the extinction list.

The announcement was "inflated” by 40 per cent as it includes 1,510 hectares of already protected land, the New South Wales National Parks Association president Anne Dickson said.

She said the lack of 'koala hubs' (specific areas occupied by koalas) was a major concern.

"We welcome the addition of land into the reserve network and we strongly welcome government recognition that the best way to protect koala habitat is to include it in national parks,” Ms Dickson said.

"This area provides for important connectivity so the reservation is good, but it could have gone further and secured the entire corridor in perpetuity.”

Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Officer Kate Smolski said a few thousand hectares of forest is not enough to save the species from extinction.

"We always welcome additions to the reserve system, but the truth is the Berejiklian Government has a terrible record in this area and has actually legalised the destruction of koala habitat on a scale not seen for a generation,” she said.

"If the Premier is genuine about getting the koala off the extinction waiting list, she must rule out deforestation of koala habitat across the state.”

"Instead, her government legalised the deforestation of 99 per cent of koala habitat on private land, scrapped the Threatened Species Conservation Act, and gave landholders open slather to bulldoze bushland across the state,” Ms Smolski said.



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