A threatened koala population which is holding out in Leard State Forest in the heavily cleared Liverpool Plains will be wiped out if the massive Maules Creek open cut coal mine goes ahead, says Greens MP and environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann, who has just returned from a visit to the area.
While visiting the forest on Thursday with ecologists and local farmers, Cate discovered this koala resting low in the tree to escape the midday heat.
"So we now have evidence beyond doubt that there are koalas in this forest. I will be urgently conveying this to the federal environment minister and the state government and asking that there be no further expansion of mining in Leard State Forest to protect these koalas," said Ms Faehrmann.
"It's very clear what will happen to the koala population if the Maules Creek mine goes ahead - it will be wiped out. Leard Forest is the largest remaining refuge on the already heavily clearly Liverpool Plains, so the koala does not have anywhere else to go if its habitat is cleared.
"The reason koalas in NSW are a threatened population is because their habitat is fast diminishing. Mines like this are continuing to be approved by a government that simply does not understand its responsibilities in terms of threatened species conservation.
"The Maules Creek mine is one of three new or expanding mines planned to carve up the forest. The equivalent of 2800 football fields of woodland will be razed by the Maules Creek mine alone, 550 hectares of which is critically endangered Box Gum Woodland.
"The three mines together will produce 18 000 tonnes of dangerous coal dust. So it's unsurprising there are significant concerns from local landowners about the health impacts of these mines. It's not good enough that governments steadfastly refuse to take health costs into account in the approvals process.
"The mine is yet to be approved by the Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke. Minister Burke must reject the proposal to save the habitat for one of our most loved native species - the koala," said Ms Faehrmann.