The Bega Valley community is being asked for ideas on how to save NSW’s koala population.
According to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), in 2012 there were about 36,000 koalas in the state and 330,000 in Australia.
But a study found that in NSW numbers had declined by 26 per cent over the prior three generations – about 15 to 21 years – and would probably continue to decline at the same rate over the next three generations unless action was taken.
To help combat the animals’ decline, a recent report by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer recommended developing a whole-of-government koala strategy for the state.
The NSW government has been holding community information sessions throughout the state this February asking for comments on what should be included in the strategy, with delegates coming to Bega on Tuesday.
Principal policy officer with NSW OEH Trish Harrup said about 40 people turned up to each session so far and there was “clearly strong support for the species”.
“We identify with them as an iconic Australian species,” she said.
She said the goal of the strategy was to “stop the decline of koala numbers and to start to increase those numbers”.
The delegates met with Bega Valley Shire Council during their visit, with Ms Harrup saying a major issue for koalas in the shire that council had identified was bushfires.
Members of the public the delegates met with identified issues for koalas that included being hit by vehicles and attacked by dogs.
Also, many landowners were interested in what they could do to protect koalas’ habitat on private land.
Ms Harrup said there was no set timeline for the koala strategy, with researchers needing time to collect information.
The community is invited to help shape the development of the NSW Koala Strategy. To make a submission, visit www.environment.nsw.gov.au/animals/nsw-koala-strategy.htm.