Sydney’s last Koala colony is pushed to the brink by massive development and other human factors. Can it survive?
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Why is this important?
The Sydney koala
The koalas have lived and foraged in eucalyptus trees for hundreds of thousands of years. Now on the fringes of Sydney, living in remnant bushland, their habitat is being eroded by housing and industrial developments. Will the expansion of Sydney mean the end of local koala populations?
We locate the Koalas, film them, talk to people who are trying to preserve their habitat and with scientists wanting to understand their survival strategies in the face of widespread habitat loss and urban expansion. The Koala’s evolutionary strategies do not extend to survival when the bush and individual trees they rely on are eradicated for urban expansion or incinerated in bushfires.
West of the Great Dividing Range, NSW koalas are threatened by land-clearing, industrialised agriculture and mining. Until recently it was thought that Koalas would survive in the East coastal bushland regions, but the race to develop more housing and create new suburbs has seen environmental protection laws weakened in favour of agriculture and urban expansion.
After millions of years of evolution that saw the Koala species evolve in forests that covered much of the continent, we now see the animal in crisis: dependent on humans and a management plan for their survival.
The current urban planning laws are insufficient to protect the Sydney Koalas. We will talk to urban planners, architects, government agencies, local councils, major infrastructure developers, environmental activists and ecologists to see what they are doing to protect and secure the future for Sydney’s koalas. We want to know if they are taking account of changes due to climate change as well as sustainable land management practices.
Is continued unbridled expansion a viable way to develop the city’s footprint? While Sydney could become a megalopolis, the films asks “is that in our best interests”? What are the best ways to provide housing and infrastructure that does not mean the extinction of the genetically important Sydney koala?
In the Sydney region and along the east coast of Australia the Koala is on a trajectory to extinction, due largely to a lack of public knowledge and political will to protect habitat. After the catastrophic 2019/20 mega bushfires, the Koala has become the poster child for governments claiming environmental credentials, for companies as mascots and for environmental activists.
Concentrated on the city fringe between the Nepean and Georges Rivers, South West Sydney’s koala population is largely chlamydia free and is genetically diverse enough to be of critical importance. By contrast, koalas in most parts of Victoria have a very limited genetic pool derived from a small number of animals. The Sydney and Blue Mountains koalas, which are more diverse genetically, could help the wider koala population, so their survival is vital. Until recently the population has been growing and seems to be on the move.
A key koala corridor lies in the path of a proposed massive housing development, the Greater MacArthur Growth Area. We look at the survey work undertaken by ecological consultants and ask if the development has effective and long term plans to protect vulnerable ecological communities it is impacting. We ask, "is the project sustainable", and are NSW environment laws so weak that they won't assist the preservation of endangered species?
'The Koala Corridor' looks at Sydney’s last koala colonies, and the fate of these charismatic animals across the country and asks whether the current scale of development includes effective planning to preserve the NSW koala. The film examines the work of local councils, state governments and the urban developers. Wildlife carers rehabilitate injured koalas and researchers tag, release and track them in the wild. We assess biodiversity and environment protection regulations to see if there are adequate safeguards for endangered species.