13 May, 2015

Koalas under threat in the Liverpool Plains near Gunnedah

One of the most important populations of koalas in NSW is at risk if the NSW Government-approved Shenhua Watermark Coal Project on the Liverpool Plains near Gunnedah goes ahead.
That’s why we urgently need your assistance to keep our Environmental Defence Fund strong. So that we can be there to help communities hold companies and government decision-makers to account.
Today, this Fund is more important than ever.
Did you know that the Federal Government recently reinstated funding to all community legal centres except Environmental Defenders Offices?

This has significantly impacted our ability to provide the community with the support they need.
The Watermark Coal Project case is just one of the current cases where EDO NSW is acting for the community and will need financial support.
On behalf of Upper Mooki Landcare, we have lodged an appeal in the Land and Environment Court to have approval for the mine overturned so that our iconic koalas are properly protected.
The group do not want to see koalas and their habitat destroyed – so they came to us.
Koalas are listed as a vulnerable species in NSW and under Federal law, with habitat loss and fragmentation recognised as key threats. In its assessment of the mine, the NSW Planning Assessment Commission stated: “The [Gunnedah koala] population has reduced significantly, as a result of droughts and heatwaves, with the estimated reduction of up to 70% since 2009.”

Gunnedah is rightly known as the Koala Capital of the World,” said Nicola Chirlian from Upper Mooki Landcare, “but the approval of this massive open cut mine will destroy prime koala habitat.
If the mine goes ahead, 847 hectares of preferred koala habitat will be cleared.
The case will argue that the NSW Government approval failed to properly consider whether the mine was likely to significantly affect the local population of koalas, a threatened species, as required under the law.
We know that if it proceeds, the Watermark Coal Project will be responsible for destroying koala food and shelter trees, increasing the risk to koalas from vehicle strike, and removing important wildlife corridors, potentially isolating any animals that remain.”
We think that the approval should be overturned, as the mine failed to properly assess their impact on the local population of koalas. But it’s not an argument we can make alone. We need the expertise that only EDO NSW can provide,” said Nicola.
Each time we help the community defend the environment it can cost up to $100,000. Will you help us to help groups like Upper Mooki Landcare protect our wildlife and their homes, and make sure we have the resources to advise the next community that comes to us for help?
Please give generously to our end of financial year appeal. Without your support over the last few difficult years, EDO NSW would not be here to assist communities in need - but we still need your help.
With our expertise, the passion of communities who care, and your support, we can continue protecting places that are precious to us all.
We have been defending the environment for 30 years but there are new threats emerging every day. Thank you for helping us to keep it safe.

Jeff Smith
Executive Director

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