An official inquiry into the koala population and habitat in New South Wales is expected to hear evidence that over 2,000 of the native Australian marsupial may have died on the state’s north coast in the most recent bushfires.
The upper house of the state’s parliament will hold an urgent hearing on Monday to discuss the damage that was caused by the massive bushfires.
Official reports suggest thousands of hectares of koala habitat across northern New South Wales and southeast Queensland have been destroyed in the most recent bushfires.
In Queensland, New South Wales, and the ACT, koalas are listed in the vulnerable list due to habitat clearing.
According to the Rural Fire Service, there were around 91 bush and grass fires in New South Wales, in which 48 of them were not contained.
It is believed that Dailan Pugh, the president of the North East Forest Alliance and an ecologist, will provide evidence on Monday that will show over 2000 koalas may have died in the bushfires.
Dailan will also provide proof that will show one-third of the koala habitat may have been lost in the fires.
Sue Ashton, the president of the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, said nearly 350 koalas could have died in a bushfire in Crestwood.
Cate Faehrmann, the Greens MP Cate who is also the chair of the inquiry, said the death of the koalas should be considered as a wakeup call for everyone.
MP Faehrmann said, “Today’s hearing is timely and necessary. We will be hearing from some of Australia’s leading experts on koalas, bushfire and climate change.”
The MP added, “We will also hear recommendations that must be urgently taken to ensure these fires don’t lead to the irreversible decline of koalas in NSW.”
The MP continued, “Hearing that we have lost up to a third of koala habitat and more than 2000 koalas on the North Coast is utterly devastating and should be a wakeup call for this government that they must take action to protect koala habitat.”
Cheyne Flanagan, the clinical director of the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, will also provide evidence about the death of the koalas.
Representatives of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry, and Environment, are also going to be present during the hearing.