THE state’s koala population has been given a $44-million boost from the NSW Government but Gunnedah was not mentioned in the announcement.
The state government funding will see $4.5 million go to support caring for sick or injured koalas and returning them to the wild, $8.9 million to improve the knowledge of koalas starting with the development of a state-wide koala habitat information base.
The funding has been welcomed by local koala rehabilitator Martine Moran who told The Namoi Valley Independent she was pleased to see the dwindling koala population receive government support.
“I think the government’s new koala strategy is a positive step in preventing koala’s becoming extinct,” Ms Moran said.
“However, I do feel like more funding is needed and more facilities need to be implemented west of the range to prevent our koalas from becoming extinct.”
Included in the funding is $3 million to build a koala hospital in Port Stephens and a new hotline for people to call and report sick or injured koalas.
Ms Moran highlighted the need for a koala hospital similiar to the one announced for Port Stephens as a priority for the region.
“A dedicated koala medical facility is needed on this side of the range, whether it be at Western Plains Zoo or here in Gunnedah,” she said.
“At the moment the amount of sick koalas is very high and it is very difficult to get them the proper care they need without a facility nearby.
“Overall I am very pleased to see something being done in terms of funding to prevent our koalas from becoming extinct but the need for a facility west of the range is great and hopefully we might see one before it is too late.”
While majority of the funds will go towards allocating thousands of hectares of state forest for a koala habitat along the state’s North Coast, Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said Gunnedah would also benefit from the funding.
“While Gunnedah may not have been mentioned by name by the premier when the funding was announced, the region will certainly benefit from the funding as well,” Mr Anderson said.
Mr Anderson said the Gunnedah region was already receiving funds for projects announced by the premier.
“In a lot of respects Gunnedah is ahead of the curve in terms of koala research and protection and is already receiving or has received funding for projects similar to those announced for the Mid-North Coast,” he said.
“We have been supporting local koala conservation for years with different projects and funding up until recently with funding announced through the Save Our Species program and the Blinky Drinkers program as well.”