Northern Rivers could become koala sanctuary as climate change takes effect.
Northern Rivers could become koala sanctuary as climate change takes effect. Contributed

Northern Rivers a climactic refuge for koalas

FRIEND of the Koala president Lorraine Vass says the Northern Rivers could become a key climactic "refuge" for koalas from the threat of global warming.  

The tree-dwelling marsupial has been identified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as one of 10 species most under threat from climate change.  

Rerating of endangered

And last week, the NSW Scientific Committee announced that koalas along the Tweed coast and north of Brunswick River in Byron Shire will be upgraded from vulnerable to endangered as they "face a very high risk of extinction."  

Ms Vass said there was a "strong case" that all the koalas in Byron Shire fell into the same category due to continuous coastal development.  

Likewise, she maintained that southern Ballina's koalas were under dire threat if the proposed route of the Pacific Highway went ahead.  

Bucking the trend

On the other hand, Lismore's koala population was bucking the trend of national decline.  

"It does seem to be a population which has reached the point of being stable," Ms Vass said.  

"But whether this will be sustained into the long-term future we just don't know.  

"I still believe our Northern Rivers area is a potential refuge for koalas when climate change really does take hold.  

"I don't say that as a scientist, but as an informed stakeholder."  

Ms Vass said far more research needed to be done on many of the koala populations on the Northern Rivers, including around Kyogle, the Tweed and Byron hinterland, and areas of the Richmond Valley.  



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