Media Releases - 13 September 2023

More than logging pause in koala hubs is needed to protect koalas amid Great Koala National Park deliberations

Today the NSW government has announced a logging pause for 106 koala hubs within the proposed Great Koala National Park (GKNP) area. The announcement was made alongside the release of a process for the establishment of the National Park. Conservation groups have long been calling for a suspension of logging within these forests while the National Park establishment process is underway.

For years, communities across the state have been raising concerns about logging NSW’s globally-significant forests, and the announcement today is an acknowledgement from the government that there is a problem with continuing to log the forest habitat of endangered wildlife. Conservation organisation, the Wilderness Society, says pausing logging within koala hubs is a welcome move, but more is required to meaningfully preserve koala populations within the area while the Park is being established.

In 2020, the NSW Legislative Committee inquiry into koala populations and habitat in NSW reported that habitat loss and fragmentation is the key threat to NSW’s koala populations. Unfortunately, protecting individual pockets of koala habitat as proposed by the NSW government is not sufficient, especially after the impacts of the Black Summer bushfires, when forests and endangered wildlife need support to recover. Today’s announcement will still allow the destruction of high conservation value forest and critical koala habitat, as well as continue to permit fragmentation of the proposed GKNP area.

The proposed GKNP, when completed, will see 140,000ha of existing national park linked to 170,000 more hectares of state forest. This region is home to approximately 20% of NSW’s endangered koala population, which makes its protection critical to the survival of NSW’s iconic koala species.

Victoria Jack, Campaigns Manager for the Wilderness Society NSW, said, “It is great to see movement from the NSW government on establishing the Great Koala National Park. Steps to protect critical koala habitat are welcome, and a pause on logging for 106 koala hubs is a start. However, pausing logging within designated pockets of koala habitat will not be enough to truly protect these endangered populations while community, scientists and Traditional Owners wait for a process that could realistically take years to be finalised.

“The NSW government’s own report on koala populations and habitat states clearly that preserving koala habitat and preventing habitat fragmentation is the number one priority if we hope to avert their extinction by 2050. Protecting 106 separate koala hubs will not buffer them against continued logging operations in surrounding forest, as well as bushfires and other natural disasters. Koalas and other native species need large areas of intact forest in order to thrive.

“Local communities have been making it well known that they have concerns about the continued logging within the region, and this announcement won’t allay their fears as it leaves key areas of koala habitat open to logging. Continuing to degrade and fragment these forests after the government made an election commitment to work towards their protection doesn’t pass the pub test.”