Noosa koalas on the brink of extinction
ONE of Australia's leading koala protection organisations will meet with tourism officials in Noosa tomorrow, as activists warn the species is on the brink of extinction in the region.
Queensland Koala Crusaders president Meghan Halverson believes koalas at Noosa National Park are "functionally" extinct and thinks the iconic animal will completely disappear from the park in the next decade.
"If we don't start to look at a baseline and then follow them and protect the koalas that do exist in the region as well as protect the trees they live in then we are likely to see extinction within the next 10 years," she said.
"Functionally I think they're basically extinct now."
Ms Halverson's warning comes after Australian Koala Foundation hosted a confidential meeting in Brisbane with some of the country's leading conservation groups to discuss launching legislation to protect koalas.
"We've been doing a lot of the same old sort of thing for a good 20, 30 years with management plans and such and nothing has been highly effective with saving the koalas," Ms Halverson said.
Australian Koala Foundation chief executive Deborah Tabart expects the Australian public to be outraged when her organisation begins releasing details from the meeting next month.
"The people in the room were audibly shocked at the science we reported to them," she said.
"I think over the last couple of days we were able to show if that continues the koala is on its way to extinction."
Ms Tabart will meet with officials from Tourism Noosa to discuss a proposal to turn Noosa into a research hub where the exact number of koalas and the measurements of trees are tracked.
"We've done this in Noosa before but I want to re-energise it because honestly I think our politicians have forgotten tourism is our future," she said.
"Tourism is essential to the koala's future. The thing is about research for koalas is you need a spot assessment technique so you need to go into the bush.
"You have to map out a quadrat and you have to identify every tree."
Ms Halverson said mapping out the exact numbers of koalas and trees was essential to making sure the species survived in Noosa.
"You've only got a few females left so we've really got to get a baseline to see if we've got enough females left to really push saving the population.
"If we start saving more koalas and we start saving the trees they live in and we start looking at connectivity and building those connections corridors between habitats that do have existing koalas now then that gives the ability for the koalas on their own to go back and forth and have genetic diversity, which increases the population."