Shocking photo highlights koala habitat destruction in Australia

Shocking photos of koalas in their diminishing natural habitat have exposed the dire plight of the Australian marsupial.

The World Wildlife Fund has released satellite imagery showing a massive spike in the destruction of New South Wales koala forests.

A whopping 14 football fields of koala habitat is bulldozed each day. The rate of tree clearing has tripled in the state’s north since the axing of the NSW Native Vegetation Act in August 2017.

Following the removal of laws protecting koala forests, more than 5000 hectares of koala habitat has been bulldozed in the NSW districts of Moree and Collarenebri.

That translates to a rate of about 14 football fields a day, according to a new report by WWF-Australia and the NSW Nature Conservation Council.

And an image of two koalas huddled together on cleared land in NSW makes the problem difficult to ignore.

WWF-Australia conservationist Stuart Blanch said the organisation estimated there were likely less than 20,000 koalas left in NSW and at the current rate, they were on track to be extinct in the state by as early as 2050.

“We have to stop this excessive tree-clearing if we want to keep koalas alive in the wild for future generations,” Mr Blanch said.

“We are releasing this report on National Threatened Species Day to highlight that the destruction of koala habitat is accelerating in NSW and to call on the government to urgently strengthen the laws to ensure koalas and other threatened native animals are given the protections they need.”

Nature Conservation Council boss Kate Smolski said the group’s satellite imagery analysis confirmed the dire predictions of the government’s own advisers, who warned the new laws would permit bulldozing of 99 per cent of identified all koala habitat on private land in the state.

“The area where this habitat destruction has occurred is one of the most heavily cleared in the state, with only 6 per cent of forest remaining while an additional 11 per cent was in sparse woodlands,” Ms Smolski said.

“The NSW Government is responsible for opening the floodgates to the destruction of koala forests and woodlands on a scale we have not seen for more than 20 years.

“This report looks at a fraction of the state, so we fear this spike in deforestation in the north is just the tip of the iceberg.”

The report concludes that repeal of the NSW Native Vegetation Act in August 2017 was likely the major reason behind the dramatic surge in forest and woodland destruction in this known clearing hotspot.

WWF-Australia and the Nature Conservation Council have launched petitions today to call on both sides of government to take action to protect koalas in NSW for future generations.

This story originally appeared in news.com.au.