The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia today launched an ambitious tree-recovery plan as an analysis by the organisation shows bushfires have burned at least 1.3 million hectares of koala habitat in New South Wales.
Since July, the fires have scorched more than 8% of the state’s known koala forest, with estimates many hundreds of the vulnerable species have perished.
WWF-Australia says the koala carnage places increased importance on its bold new strategy – Towards Two Billion Trees.
“Our plan shows how Australia can save and grow two billion trees by 2030,” said Dr Stuart Blanch, Senior Manager Land Clearing and Restoration, WWF-Australia.
“This natural climate solution can be achieved by protecting existing trees, allowing cleared forests to regenerate, and planting new trees.
“Koalas and all of Australia’s cherished wildlife would be the big winners.
“WWF’s strategy tackles the extinction and climate crisis,” he said.
WWF-Australia is urging governments, landholders and corporations to end deforestation and forest degradation, and transition to being a world leader in restoration of forests and woodlands. If current rates of clearing continue the impact on wildlife would be alarming.
“Australia was the only developed country listed as a global deforestation hotspot in The Living Planet Report last year. If we were to implement this plan we would literally shift Australia from being a deforestation nation to a leading reforestation nation, which would benefit our wildlife, climate and people,” said Dr Blanch.
“By putting the brakes on bulldozers over the next decade, Australia can save five million hectares of forests and woodlands, protect 500 million trees, conserve 750 million native animals, and cut our country’s greenhouse gas emissions by around 9%.”
In addition, major new funding for farmers and Indigenous communities for restoration of forests and woodlands across 10 million hectares of cleared lands could grow an additional one-and-a-half billion trees.
Concern for koalas runs deep in northern NSW. One man setting an example is farmer Frank Binkley who is creating a koala sanctuary on his property near Bangalow by planting thousands of koala food trees with the help of the Koala furniture company.
Koala furniture company founders Mitch Taylor and Dany Milham, who both hail from northern NSW, have also thrown their support behind Towards Two Billion Trees and their company is the first corporate partner to help fund WWF’s tree-recovery plan.
Bangalow Koalas President Linda Sparrow said there is a tremendous appetite for hands-on action to help koalas and wildlife. Her organisation has planted nearly 20,000 trees on 18 properties in 21 months. At their last tree-planting event 180 people turned up from five shires including the Gold Coast.
“We’re getting three generations of a family coming to plant. People want to do something because they’re sick of waiting for governments to act,” said Ms Sparrow.
Finance specialist and media personality Mark Bouris, who is also preparing to plant a mass of koala food trees on his farm behind Byron Bay, said this about Towards Two Billion Trees: “It’s an ambitious plan – two billion – and that requires everyone to get on board and send the message out that we should all have a crack at this where we can.”
Mr Bouris wants his grandkids to be able to see koalas in the wild.
“This is not about going to a zoo to see a koala, or looking at a stamp to see a koala, or looking at a magazine. We have to do whatever we can to enhance the koala and all the native animals,” he said.
To help WWF protect and restore homes for koalas visit here.