Wildlife advocacy group joins 'koala wars'

A leading not-for-profit has thrown funding support behind a new koala advocacy group, as it vows to be a powerful voice in the state's ongoing "koala wars".

The Sydney Basin Koala Network has been established through a not-for-profit campaign group called Total Environment Centre, after receiving three years' worth of funding from wildlife rescue organisation WIRES.

The network says its focus will be on bringing the "critical" issue of the Sydney basin's koala protection to the forefront of the political agenda at the state and federal level.

The group will also support community and non-government groups and citizen scientists as they map koala sightings and carry out surveys.

"The next three years are critical as urban, mining and other developments threaten to clear critical habitat and connecting corridors," Total Environment Centre director Jeff Angel said.

The funding will allow the group to raise awareness about koalas with communities throughout Sydney, where research shows suburban communities may not realise they are living alongside the endangered species.

Nationals MP Dugald Saunders backed away from a bill in NSW parliament last week which threatened to revive fierce political debate over koala habitat.

The Liberal and National parties in NSW have been involved in bitter internal disputes over changes to planning laws affecting koala habitat.

The Sydney Basin Koala Network said a study had shown less than a third of people were aware that koalas still lived close to busy residential areas in Sydney - including in the Blue Mountains and Nowra.

That's despite the majority of people, or 84 per cent, believing koala habitat should be protected from development, mining and logging.

The results were taken from a YouGov study of more than 1000 people in regional and metropolitan NSW.

WIRES chief executive Leanne Taylor says koalas in the Sydney basin are routinely injured and remain under threat.

"The fires of 2019/20 were another big alarm and the remaining healthy population needs to be nurtured and protected so they can repopulate regenerating forests," Ms Taylor said.

The population is one of the few in Australia that continues to expand, and is not affected by chlamydia.