Allowing broad-scale clearing again after 30 years of protection is "a real slap in the face for the family of Glen Turner, who gave his life trying to stop illegal clearing at Croppa Creek", a Tamworth ecologist says.
Phil Spark's comments come after Stand Up For Nature - an alliance of 11 conservation groups - made a submission to the NSW Upper House inquiry into koala populations and habitat.
The alliance said koalas could become extinct in NSW within 30 years without the full support of political parties and the NSW Koala Strategy "fails to address the number one threat to koala populations - habitat loss and fragmentation".
In the submission, the alliance wrote that "koalas cannot be saved unless we ensure their remaining habitat is protected and restored, but right now the opposite is occurring".
Mr Spark said land-clearing in the North West was "escalating" and despite the Office of Environment and Heritage identifying "major koala hubs", the government was not acting to protect them.
"The government is ignoring that information to allow farmers to keep clearing koala habitat in those areas," he said.
"Clearing is escalating due to the open-ended clearing code and farmers know that they can't be prosecuted because the regulation is based on their self-assessment."
Related story: Vaccination trial good news for Gunnedah shire's koalas
Mr Spark said that, "a long time ago", the government was supposed to release a regulatory map of the region to show "koala habitat and areas of high conservation value for threatened species and endangered ecological communities" - where self-assessment clearing could and could not occur.
But the ecologist said it was "stopped by the farmers".
"They also persuaded the government to grant an amnesty to those farmers who were being investigated for illegal clearing," he said.
"The clearing of native vegetation on rural land is not effectively regulated and managed because the processes in place to support the regulatory framework are weak.
"There is no evidence-based assurance that clearing of native vegetation is being carried out in accordance with approvals."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.