NSW Farmers calls on government to find sensible solution for koalas and farmers

NSW Farmers urges the NSW Nationals and Liberal Party to work together for a sensible solution that both effectively protects koalas as well as allows farmers to appropriately manage their land.

While well intentioned, the reality is the NSW Koala SEPP is an ineffective regulation for rural lands, which delivers adverse environmental and economic outcomes.

It also jeopardises landholders’ ability to prepare for the bushfire season as it makes it illegal for farmers to maintain fire breaks that are effective in fire resistance and prevents clearing of regrowth that fuels fire spread. 

Put simply, the Koala SEPP allows for the following: 

The new definition of what is Core Koala Habitat, that restricts what can be done on rural land, has been expanded by the Koala SEPP, without consultation.
The tree species designated as a habitat, which is protected under the SEPP, has expanded from 30 to over 120.
The definition of a koala being in that habitat has changed to whether there has been a registered sighting in that area in the last 18 years. This is taken as valid and does not take into account that koala males move around.
The land is then classified as Core Koala habitat and that has a direct effect on what land owners can do in the normal conduct of their business.
Where councils adopt the Koala Plan of Management and classify areas as Core Koala Habitat, they can under the ministerial direction, declare this an environmental zone ( EZone), and this curtails some continuing, and any new agricultural activities.

Where a Local Government Area adopts an area as Core Koala habitat, any rural activity more than just a fencing replacement, and in some councils even that, will require a DA. This includes even building a shed. 

The DA will create large costs for the application, and prohibitive costs in offsetting vegetation that would have been cost free under the Land Management Code.

NSW Farmers is not opposed to koala conservation. In fact it’s farmers that are doing more than their fair share of amazing conservation work protecting koalas across NSW.

We also understand that regulation is necessary in peri-urban areas to protect koalas from urban development.

We are calling on the Premier to start again, and develop an approach through the NSW Land Management Codes to support farmers to actively manage their land to minimise the risk of wild fires and through doing so protect the many Koala populations that have existed happily on NSW farms for decades.

Dr James Jackson - NSW Farmers’ President 

Date: Thursday, 10 September 2020
Media Contact:  Kathleen Curry - 0429 011 690 | [email protected]