Koalas are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975. Killing, harassing or disturbing them can attract a penalty of up to $8,000 and an additional fine of more than $800 per head of wildlife.
Earlier this year, the devastating bushfires that ravaged Australia left the country's koala population at serious risk, with reports stating that up to 30 per cent of the species that had been living in New South Wales had perished. Now conservationists and wildlife experts have expressed concern that Australian state governments are continuing to log unburned forests that house these vulnerable koala populations.
In July, a state parliamentary inquiry found that koalas will be extinct in NSW before 2050 unless there is urgent government action. The year-long inquiry found habitat loss remains the biggest threat to the species' survival and that continuous logging and habitat clearing has been ongoing, despite the toll it's taking.
Even with these fears and clear recommendations from that state inquiry, including that the NSW government urgently prioritise the protection of koala habitat in urban planning, the state-owned logging agency Forestry Corporation is continuing to cut down trees in increasingly rare koala habitats.
Speaking to Vice, James Tremain, from the Nature Conservation Council of NSW said, “It’s a scandal that the government isn’t doing what’s required to prevent the extinction of one of our most iconic species. They’re schizophrenic on the issue. They say they have a koala strategy and an ambition to increase the population of koalas, but they’ve introduced laws that have made it much easier to destroy koala habitat.”
Wildlife rescuer and arborist Kailas Wild recently teamed up with Nature NSW to show koalas in the middle of a logging operation in the Lower Bucca State Forest on the north coast of NSW, showing the devastating impacts the operations are having on already suffering habitats.