Sure the Great Koala War of NSW may now be over, but it seems there is some more koala drama coming our way, this time at a Federal level. Folks, you hate to see it.
There is a lot going down around the newly approved clearance of koala habitats in Federal Government, so we are going to do our very best to break it down for you and explain it in layman’s terms: shit’s fucked.
On Tuesday, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley approved of a 52 hectare clearance of koala habitat in place of a quarry expansion at Brandy Hill. The expansion application was made by Hanson Construction Materials, who for the rest of this article we’ll just call ‘Hanson’.
Ley caused quite a stir when she announced her approval for the destruction of 52 hectares of precious koala territory would be a “net gain” for koalas. Yikes.
“If I thought the actions that were being proposed would set back the local koala population, then I would not have approved it,” she told the ABC in an interview.
“This is a positive outcome for them… this is not killing koalas.
“This is a net gain for local koalas by providing better quality habitat than is there at present.”
Now you’re probably wondering how the hell the clearance of trees which koalas currently occupy could be seen as a good thing. There is an explanation, albeit a very poor one.
One of the main reasons Ley approved Hanson’s application in the first place is because they proposed that in clearing 52 hectares, they would also plant 74 hectares.
This entire process of quarry expansion and tree planting would go hand-in-hand over 25 years, meaning in Ley’s eyes, nobody would really notice any difference, especially the koalas. Look at those majestic kings, not noticing the mass destruction of their land.
The trees Hanson is planning to plant have been said to be even more “preferable” to the koalas than what is currently on offer. So like, a banquet of fruit versus stale bread kind of deal, apparently.
Needless to say, the clearance of any trees at a time when koala populations are disappearing post-bushfire season probably isn’t a good idea, and the application has been met with both local and international disagreement from concerned individuals. (It’s me, I am concerned individual #2939.)
It is important to note that although Ley plans to rebuild koala habitat over time, destruction of an endangered species’ home can bear extremely negative effects on the species. It’s also very unclear as to how Ley plans to move all the koalas from their old homes and into their new ones.
Today, the Greens plan to legislate a moratorium on the action, which means they are gunning to put Sussan Ley’s plans to a complete halt. Environment Spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is behind this push, citing that the plan aims to “destroy critical habitat of an endangered species.”
We’ll be on koala watch as more unfolds.