After millions of years of evolution that saw Koalas evolve in forests that covered much of the continent, and a hundred years of white settlement, a bounty saw koalas hunted to the brink of extinction for their skins in the early 20th century. Land clearing and the catastrophic bushfires of 2019/20, when an estimated 61,000 koalas perished, see this iconic animal now in crisis, dependent on humans and a management plan for their survival.
Less than 1% of koala habitat survives west of the Great Dividing Range, where colonies have been smashed by high temperatures and land-clearing for agriculture and mining. However, until recently, it was thought that Koalas would survive in the East coast bushland regions, but the mega fires, weakened environmental protection laws and the race to clear land for new housing developments has seen koala colonies under increasing stress.
Sydney has one last healthy koala population, concentrated on the Southwest fringe between the Nepean and Georges Rivers. Unlike many koala populations, it is growing, and it is largely chlamydia free. Koalas in other parts of Australia (SA and Vic) have narrow gene pools, having descended from a small number of survivors of the cull. The SW Sydney and Blue Mountains koalas are genetically diverse and could be vital to survival of the species.
A key koala corridor lies in the path of a proposed housing development corridor: the Greater Macarthur Growth Area. We look at plans, surveys and ask if the developer has effective plans to protect vulnerable ecological communities, or are NSW environment laws so weakened that they can't protect endangered species?
As koalas search for tasty leaves or a mate in the bushland fringes of SW Sydney, wildlife carers rehabilitate injured koalas and researchers track them in the wild, we talk to stakeholders in government, planning and environmental policy.
The Koala Corridor looks at koalas, their habitat, and the fate of this iconic marsupial in the wild.