The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has sought feedback from the Gunnedah shire as part of the NSW Koala Strategy.
OEH ran a community workshop in Gunnedah on Thursday, which was well-attended by koala activists, landholders, Project Koala members, National Parks and Wildlife, koala carers, an ecologist and North West Local Land Services.
The state government released the NSW Koala Strategy in May and is running a series of 12 workshops around the state to get input from communities about what needs to be done for koalas in their regions.
Breeza woman and former koala carer Kelly Cains said she came along because she was “interested to hear where they’re at with the strategy and make sure they know what Gunnedah needs”.
Ms Cains said she was concerned about the decline in koala numbers on the Liverpool Plains and something needed to be done.
“In the time I moved there [six years ago] to now, I counted 12 different koalas coming through our property and the neighbour’s but in the last few years there’s only been about one,” Ms Cains said.
Ms Cains said she would like to see locals educated about koalas and how to identify when they were unwell and needed care, more tree planting and access to treatment for chlamydia.
The big picture is that they’re getting the community all revved up to do something for koalas and the government is allowing clearing of the land.- Phil Spark, ecologist
The Breeza woman said she became interested in the conservation of koalas because of what she witnessed at her place.
“They were on my property and they started showing up sick and that’s why I took up caring for them,” she said.
“It would be nice to see the local council do a bit more for koalas too.”
Tamworth ecologist Phil Spark was among those at the workshop and said he was feeling a bit “cynical” after spending two days in parliament presenting a case for greater balance between the level of land clearing and the conservation of koala habitat.
In his role as an independent ecologist, Mr Spark advocated alongside the Nature Conservation Council, the Wilderness Society, National Parks Association and World Wildlife Fund.
“We were there to lobby the MPs [but] they just showed us that they weren’t interested in koalas,” Mr Spark said.
“They haven’t thought about any ramifications [of clearing], which is a big concern.
“Our best hope is a change of government.
“It’s a shut-shop for the Nats.”
Mr Spark said while it was “positive” that the NSW was seeking community contribution through the OEH workshops, it flew in the face of the government’s actions in regards to land clearing.
“The big picture is that they’re getting the community all revved up to do something for koalas and the government is allowing clearing of the land, so it’s abusing those who care, who would like to be doing something positive,” he said.