Land set aside for NSW koalas

Tom Rabe

The NSW government will set aside almost 25,000 hectares of state forest in a bid to arrest declining koala numbers but conservationists say it's not enough.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Sunday announced $45 million would go towards protecting the state's koalas and studying why their numbers continued to decline.

"This unprecedented action is the first part of a long-term investment by the NSW Liberal and Nationals government that will guarantee koalas have a very bright future in this state," Ms Berejiklian said in a statement.

However environmentalists have pointed out the hypocrisy of setting aside some land while at the same time trying to push through controversial land-clearing laws.

The land clearing codes, introduced in 2017, allowed landowners to clear sections of native bushland on their property without prior environmental assessment.

The Land and Environment Court declared the codes invalid in March due to a legal error.

Nature Conservation Council of NSW chief executive Kate Smolski said the codes made 99 per cent of identified koala habitat on private land able to be bulldozed.

"A real strategy to save koalas from extinction would include ending native forest logging, ensuring koala habitat can not be bulldozed by developers and agribusiness, and creating the Great Koala National Park," she said in a statement.

Asked whether she saw contradictions in her state's environmental policies, Ms Berejiklian said she believed there needed to be a "strong balance".

As part of the koala protection strategy, $5 million will be directed towards community initiatives, including planting trees and providing water sources.

Meanwhile, close to $9 million will help develop a statewide koala habitat database.