With the Koala now listed as endangered in NSW, Queensland, and ACT, and the prediction that they could be extinct by 2050, the need for developing and trialling innovative approaches to conservation is critical. It is evident that the millions of dollars spent thus far, and the various programs and initiatives have had little to no impact on the conservation status of Koalas.
Researchers at AWS are working on proposing the establishment of a predator-proof and disease-free sanctuary for koalas on the NSW North Coast. The proposal will address a suite of threats faced by Koalas including disease, predation, vehicle strike, and habitat loss, rather than addressing a single threat which may not achieve any meaningful benefit to declining Koala populations.
Another agenda of the proposal is to engage private landholders in order to achieve the scale of conservation required to reverse Koala population trends. We have seen an increase in the adoption of market-based incentives for environmental protection and regeneration, however, many of these programs tend to be exclusive, with only a handful of private landholders eligible to participate.
Once established, the sanctuary’s Koala population could be used as a source population for translocations, genetic rescue and other conservation efforts!