More national parks and state reserves won’t be enough to stop the localised extinction of NSW koala populations, NSW Upper House MP for the Animal Justice Party, Mark Pearson has said.
Mr Pearson is urging the government to introduce “guardianship payments” to encourage private landholders to keep koala habitat.
“67 per cent of koalas live on private land, and we know many private landholders are allowing logging companies onto their land to cut down ‘a few trees’, only for swathes of precious koala food trees to be cut down,” he said.
“As a financial incentive, guardianship payments would reduce the number of private landholders allowing these logging companies to log koala trees on their property.”
Mr Pearson said if the government is serious about saving koalas, guardianship payments are a “no-brainer”.
“If the NSW Government is willing to give money to create more parks in areas where koala populations are almost non-existent, it make sense to also give money to people whose land we know have koalas on it in order to keep those trees standing,” he said.
Mr Pearson’s comments come just a day before the controversial Local Land Services amendment bill will be debated in NSW Parliament.
He has campaigned against the amendment, assuring the public he will not vote in favour of it.
“Healthy koalas need healthy habitat, and this will undo over two decades of progress in koala conservation,” Mr Pearson said.
Earlier this year, Mr Pearson sat as Deputy Chair of a parliamentary inquiry into koala populations and habitat in NSW.
The inquiry found koalas could be extinct in NSW before 2050.