Koala lovers are celebrating the purchase of habitat in NSW which had been slated for development.
The 194 hectare property at 147 The Ruins Way, Port Macquarie was being systematically cleared and had been offered for sale, as reported by Yahoo News in November.
Koala Hospital Port Macquarie's Sue Ashton warned at the time the proposed development would have been “absolutely devastating” and resulted in the loss of the town’s urban koala population.
Today she told Yahoo News she’s “over the moon”.
“We got news yesterday that they’ve actually signed the contract, which is just brilliant, absolutely brilliant,” she said.
“Today is a fabulous day for koalas, for the koala hospital and Port Macquarie's wildlife in general.
"It's just wonderful.”
Warning 'much more needs to be done' to stop koala extinction
The land has been purchased using a $3.5 million contribution from Koala Conservation Australia as well as funds from the NSW Government.
Yahoo News has been unable to confirm the final sale price, but sources indicated in November the owner was asking upwards of $11 million.
NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said the purchase will help reach state’s target of doubling its koala population by 2050.
“Our iconic koalas are increasingly threatened by the loss and fragmentation of habitat, this purchase will protect critical habitat from development and ensure the koala population in this area is safeguarded forever,” he said in a statement.
Today's announcement follows a campaign fought by locals including koala rescuer Kai Wild, and a petition which garnered over 22,000 signatures.
Mr Wild said news of the purchase has left him "incredibly relieved”.
“There’s a chance for their survival now,” he told Yahoo News.
Despite the acquisition, Mr Wild said it’s important to remember that koalas are still on track towards extinction in NSW.
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