Clearing of koala habitat will be banned with "zero exceptions" if a new Greens bill passes federal parliament.
The amendment would remove exemptions used by state authorities to allow the timber industry and private landholders to unleash bulldozers on trees where the marsupials live.
Any destruction “likely to have significant impacts on koalas” would be banned.
Greens spokesperson for the environment, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, has vowed to “push for the Save the Koala Bill to be made the law” if her party holds the balance of power after the Federal Election.
Citing a recent Australian Conservation Foundation report which found the Morrison Government had approved destruction of 25,000 hectares of koala habitat, Ms Hanson-Young said a moratorium on clearing “is crucial”.
“You can’t save koalas while continuing to wreck their homes. Unless we take urgent action to end clearing of critical habitat, they will be extinct in NSW by 2050,” she said.
“Koalas were listed as endangered just months ago, yet governments continue to approve projects that will destroy their habitat.”
Greens accused of using koalas to end logging by stealth
NSW Shooters and Fishers MLC Mark Banasiak said while he understands the Greens’ concerns about koala populations, the amendment is “misguided”.
He said the party have a “clear agenda” to end logging and accused them of using koalas, to help them achieve that goal.
“They’re using what I’d call a charismatic animal to fool people into thinking this is a bill that should be supported blindly, and not consider the ramifications more broadly,” he said.
“Did they even consider whether this is the best way to go about protecting the koala?”
Currently chairing an inquiry into the long-term sustainability of the timber industry in NSW, Mr Banasiak warns the bill could impact access to timber at a time when supply is already in “crisis”.
Warning ending regional forestry agreements with the states would have significant financial ramifications, he questions whether the Greens had considered the “potential compensation cost”.
Mr Banasiak added that the timber industry “touches most parts of the state” and on the Mid North Coast alone there are 10,000 jobs connected to forestry products.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.