A critical colony of around 200 koalas near Ballina, New South Wales, Australia is at risk of extinction from a highway upgrade. Our efforts so far have forced the Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt to stall Stage 10 of the Pacific Highway, insisting on further studies before making his decision. These studies are now with the Minister.
We have serious concerns and feel the science may have been manipulated to meet the desired objective. Everyone agrees that these koalas are already in severe decline, with the biggest threat being road kill. A four-lane highway will not protect this population. These koalas need help not a highway!
Send a message to Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt asking him to protect these iconic koalas not sign their death warrant.
Dear Minister Hunt,
I am writing to you as supporter of IFAW as I know that you will soon make a decision on Stage 10 of the Pacific Highway upgrade and the ultimate fate of the Ballina koalas.
I wanted to thank you for listening to the community's concerns about the need to protect our native wildlife in your previous decision to require further studies. I am aware that you are currently reviewing the Ballina Koala Plan. I want to urge you to take time reviewing all the science as IFAW and their partners, Friends of the Koala and Save Ballina Koalas have serious concerns about the plan. I share their concerns that the science has been manipulated to meet the RMS's desired objective. This road needs to be diverted to koala friendly route if this critical colony of koalas is to survive.
The Plan confirms our previous concerns that this population is already in dangerous decline due to road kill and domestic dog attacks. No amount of mitigation will offset extinction. What these koalas need is your intervention to find an alternative route to ensure the Ballina 200's survival.
The RMS suggestion that a new highway will help deliver this much needed intervention is disingenuous. Help for these koalas should not be dependent on RMS being given permission to build a new road right through the middle of their habitat.
I am also deeply concerned that the study and plan presented to you seems to have failed to take into account the likely deaths during the construction process or the impact on the population's movement by dividing it with a new road. There is also far too much reliance on untested assumptions that a chlamydia vaccine will help boost breeding rates when the population does not seem particularly affected by disease, and on planting new trees that will take at least 4-7 years before they can be of any use to koalas.
Twenty-six years of evidence from Friends of the Koala shows this significant population of koalas is already significantly impacted by road mortalities. The very last thing that these koalas need is a four-lane highway. This will be sure to seal their fate.
While everyone recognises the importance of upgrading the highway, it is deeply troubling that the RMS is still refusing to consider alternative koala-friendly routes to meet your conditions.
The plight of Ballina's koalas is emblematic of the problems facing koalas and other wildlife all over the country. I urge you to please do the right thing by these koalas and take action to protect them for future generations.