Local koala experts have known for years that the mammal is in real trouble, and now a new report proves they're headed for extinction.
Tamworth-based ecologist Phil Spark said the findings of a state Upper House inquiry show koalas could disappear from the North West in the next 30 years.
Mr Spark said the ball is now in the government's court to act.
"I'd like [Minister for Energy and Environment] Matt Kean to take it on board, to get the government to take it seriously and realise their Koala Strategy is not working," Mr Spark said.
"They've got to relook at the Koala Strategy - that's the first thing - and incorporate all that this inquiry has revealed."
At a public hearing in Gunnedah in December, Mr Spark told the committee that successive extreme events in the past had reduced the Gunnedah population by 50 per cent and the western population had become locally extinct.
Mr Spark said now the government needed to adopt the committee's recommendations and protect habitat; provide landholders with a financial incentive to look after koalas; and invest in regular monitoring and surveying of koala populations.
"We need a better handle on populations to be able to monitor more accurately, whether it's increasing or decreasing. We need to set up regular monitoring programs so we have a better finger on the pulse," he said.
Mr Spark said he had set up 30 long-term monitoring plots around Gunnedah with North West Local Land Services' Angela Baker but "no one has come forward to say they'll fund the monitoring".
"We need to be doing that on a bigger scale where koalas are so we have more accurate data as to what they're doing. A lot of it's guesswork," he said.
I'd like Matt Kean to take it on board, to get the government to take it seriously and realise their Koala Strategy is not working.Phil Spark, ecologist
Large-scale loss of trees from years of drought is another major issue around the North West.
"What I'm finding really scary is the amount of trees still dying from the really dry period we had," he said.
"The defoliation and tree deaths is really significant and I don't think the Koala Strategy really comprehends the dimension of that problem.
"We're not only losing habitat through land clearing but possibly losing more through the impact of climate change so there's a big reduction of habitat, that's put additional pressure on koalas, that really hasn't become so obvious as it is now."
Ex-Gunnedah koala researcher John Lemon was equal in his praise of the new report but said he felt the vital role of koala carers should have been addressed in the recommendations.
"I thought there would be more focus on them because there aren't many new people in that area," he said.
"A lot of them volunteer their time and a lot of it is at their own expense ... they do a fantastic job and it's largely unrecognised.
"[I'd like to see] more financial support as well as government support; for government agencies to be more proactive in helping them in the job they do."
Gunnedah's koala carer Martine Moran was a witness at the public hearing, and on Wednesday told the NVI she was "surprised" that the different political parties within the committee were on the same page about the marsupial's future.
"I think the report is good because it's bipartisan ... it's not something I would criticise in a hurry," Mrs Moran said.
"I was really surprised; I thought there might have been a bit of dissent in the group and there wasn't, which was great."
- To read the full report into NSW koala populations and habitat, click here.