Climate change, land-clearing and mining are the major factors decimating the koala population in the north-west, according to ecologists, residents, experts and landcare groups.
Twelve witnesses shared their thoughts on the key issues and possible solutions for the national dilemma at a NSW koala inquiry in Gunnedah today.
Among them were Gunnedah WIRES volunteer Martine Moran, Breeza farmer Andrew Pursehouse and Tamworth ecologist Phil Spark.
The Upper House inquiry was chaired by Cate Faehrmann MLC, who visited the Pursehouse property with the panel ahead of the hearing.
Mr Pursehouse's concerns centred on the vast clearing that would be carried out if the proposed Shenhua Watermark mine is approved.
He has been living and working at Breeza Station for 35 years and said although once he saw a handful of koalas with young every day, he was "now lucky to find one" if he searched.
"I have witnessed the desecration of the koala population at Breeza and I'm terribly concerned with what's going to happen with the Shenhua Watermark mine," he said.
"If we're talking about a decimated population now, we'll be talking about no population if that mine goes ahead."
He said land-clearing would stop the natural migration of koalas and disrupt their corridor from Gunnedah to Breeza.
Koala carer Martine Moran said clearing made it difficult to find places to release the koalas that had been in her care, and lack of water and high temperatures made them "stressed", which often led to disease.
"With increased drought and heat conditions, many more koalas are coming into care. Some of these koalas can be saved, but when it comes time for them to be released, they need their homes to go back to, their trees," she said.
"Koalas are the original tree-huggers ... they need their trees for shelter, and food and dating female koalas. Female koalas want to eat and have their babies in peace in areas that allow them to survive and thrive."
Mrs Moran said habitat-clearing also caused territorial problems and meant koalas were on the move, putting them at risk of death and injury.
"WIRES volunteers attend koalas affected by many factors such as disease, dog attacks and vehicles strikes, but all these factors are magnified by habitat loss," she said.
"You in government are in a much better position to save many more koalas than me. Politicians of all persuasions need to work together and stop listening to lobbyists, who are often motivated by greed.
"You need to listen to your heart. You have the fate of koalas in your hands."