The devastating wildlife images used in this report have been supplied courtesy of Ricardo Carlo Lonza Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown.
A new WWF-Australia report has found tree-clearing killed more than 87 million animals in New South Wales between 1998 and 2015 – and this figure is likely rising.
Written in collaboration with the University of Sydney’s Professor Christopher Dickman, the report found more than 517,000 hectares of native bushland were destroyed over the 17 years – an area almost twice the size of the Blue Mountains National Park.
This destruction led to the deaths of about 5 million animals each year, totalling 9.1 million mammals, 10.7 million birds, and 67.1 million reptiles.
But this number may have doubled to over 10 million per year after the Native Vegetation Act was repealed to make it easier to legally bulldoze forests.
“New South Wales now has the weakest woodland and forest protections. It is the worst place to live in Australia if you are a wild animal that needs trees to survive,” said Darren Grover, WWF-Australia’s Head of Living Ecosystems.
“After NSW laws were axed, forest destruction rates nearly tripled in just one part of the state alone. This data shows that the number of animals killed by bulldozing is likely to have risen dramatically under the current government,” said Mr Grover.
“The Office of Environment and Heritage has refused to release information to the public about tree-clearing after 2015, and this prevents us from accurately assessing just how bad the current situation is for wildlife,” he said
“This report shows how important it is to have stronger protections for our parks, forests and bush, if we want our future generations to be able to see our beloved Australian animals in the wild,” said Professor Dickman.
The findings come a week after WWF’s flagship Living Planet Report (LPR) indicated that global wildlife populations have, on average, declined by 60% in just over 40 years. LPR names eastern Australia as a deforestation hotspot, along with the Amazon and Sumatra.
Iconic Australian animals in NSW, such as koalas are declining at significantly faster rates than the global average.