For years now, the Greens, Labor Party and “modern Liberals” have exploited the plight of the Koala to stoke up fears about climate change, undermine Australia’s forestry industry and bankroll dodgy conservation programs.
As is usually the case with these people however, they haven’t done their history and science homework.
A brilliant article by Vic Jurskis in the Quadrant argues that – despite what the activists will tell you – “koalas don’t need saving”.
“Indeed, they are in much higher numbers across a much wider area today than when Europeans arrived in Australia,” Vic writes.
“Back then they were so rare that it was all of 15 years before the first specimen was found and displayed in Sydney.
“What few realise is that koala numbers are directly related to land use and management — or, rather, mismanagement. Koalas are an irruptive species, a term synonymous with ‘pest’.
“In a few words, koala populations boom in dense, young regrowth forests after high-intensity fires, plus forests thickening and declining in the absence of maintenance by mild fire.”
To summarise, koalas were rare before English colonisation because their habitat was dominated by large mature trees with hard, dry, low nutrient leaves.
Their population was regulated by a limited food resource and rainfall. The forests were maintained in this condition by frequent mild burning by Aboriginal populations that suppressed the growth of young trees, thick scrubs and out-of-control undergrowth.
During the nineteenth century – with the displacement of Aboriginal people and their age-old burning practices – periodic drought and severe bushfires meant the koala population began going through “boom and bust cycles”.
Populations irrupted because a lack of regular mild fire temporarily increased the koala’s food supply consisting of young leaves and tender shoots found in regrowth forest. Then came the inevitable crash as over-browsing exceeded the capacity of trees to resprout and produce koala food. Crashes also occurred during severe droughts and uncontrolled wildfires derived from lack of hazard reduction burning, both of which also limited the forests’ production of koala food.
Although in the early 1990s, scientists finally realised koalas thrive in young regrowth forests established by heavy logging, poor land management and severe bushfires; today’s stock of politicians like koala-obsessed Matt Kean have turned a blind eye.
Instead, they’ve demonised the logging industry, locked up millions of hectares of national park and refused to conduct appropriate hazard reduction burns. As a result, the uncontrollable, fast-moving wildfires of 2019/20 wiped much of the populations out, and the “boom and bust” cycle of koala populations will continue until an even bigger megafire wipes them out for good.
To complete the circle of idiocy and incompetence, the government and media then blamed the decline in population post 2019/20 bushfires on climate change, the logging industry and the lack of unmanaged national parks.
Throw hundreds of millions of dollars at the problem, lock up more land and hope for the best.
It truly beggars belief how stupid, historically illiterate and ignorant our political class has become in the last two decades…
For further information and proof, below is a chronology of Koala populations put together by Jurskis and edited by ADVANCE:
- 1788: Europeans set up camp at Sydney Cove.
- 1791-1815: Numerous expeditions seek to cross the Blue Mountains and beyond. No koalas are sighted.
- 1798: John Wilson, an ex-convict who lived in the bush with Aborigines, shows explorer John Price some koala dung south of Cumberland Plain.
- 1802: Gory, Aboriginal guide to explorer Francis Barallier, barters two spears and a tomahawk for a sample of two koala feet obtained south of Cumberland Plain. Europeans employ Aborigines to search for koalas.
- 1803: Live koala brought to Sydney from south of Cumberland Plain. The Gazette reports: “Its food consists solely of gum leaves, in the choice of which it is excessively nice”.
- 1810: First drawing of a koala is published. It’s described as “a solitary animal rarely to be met with”.
- 1817-1846: The parties of explorers Oxley, Sturt and Mitchell conduct many extensive explorations throughout the koala’s range. None are sighted.
- 1830s: Pastoralists occupy grassy woodlands in coastal valleys of NSW and VIC. There are no koalas in the valleys. Aboriginal burning is disrupted right around the coastal side of the Great Dividing Range.
- 1836: Surveyor Govett (back in England) writes of plentiful koalas in dense new stringybark forests of the foothills on both sides of the Blue Mountains.
- 1840: Strzelecki becomes the only explorer ever to see koalas. His party eats them to survive as they struggle through dense 20-year-old forest initiated by our first megafire.
- 1844: Renowned naturalist John Gould searches for koalas near Sydney. Even with Aboriginal guides, he writes, they “could rarely be detected” except by “diligent” search and only in thick scrub on the rough escarpments of the Illawarra and the Liverpool Ranges. Gould becomes one of the first to predict their extinction.
- 1887: Koala plagues in valley woodlands across the southeast. Koalas are malnourished and diseased. Export fur industry commences. The more adults shot, the more young survive. So koalas continue to increase.
- 1900-1910: After the Federation drought, gum leaves frizzle, koala numbers crash. Koalas disappear from coastal woodlands SA to QLD. Stable low-density populations persist unnoticed in mature forests.
- 1920s: Koalas irrupt in central and northeast QLD (where pastoral development was delayed, compared to further south). Koalas are malnourished and diseased.
- 1927-1939: Koalas continue to increase in central and northeast QLD, attaining unsustainable densities. Then numbers crash in central and northeast QLD during a sustained period of low rainfall.
- 1934: Victoria’s Inspector of Fisheries and Game states that koalas are extinct in SA, NSW and there are “very few” left in the Strzelecki Ranges. He says the species is doomed to extinction in mainland Australia.
- 1974: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is established. One year later, the NPWS conducts a mail-out survey which reveals more koala sightings at more locations than reported prior to 1949.
- 1976: A meeting of 43 koala experts at Taronga Zoo unanimously agrees that koalas are increasing and in absolutely no danger of extinction.
- 1991: Scientific research finds that north coast koalas are concentrated in dense young regrowth forests established by heavy logging, and in eucalypt plantations. There are three times more koalas in young forests than in old-growth ones. Four years later, these regrowth forests and plantations near Coffs Harbour are locked up to ‘save’ koalas.
- 1820-2009: After 20 megafires in 200 years, including Black Thursday, Red Tuesday, Black Friday and Black Saturday, Strzelecki koalas are still in unnaturally high densities.
- 2010: Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) advises the Federal Environment Minister (wrongly) that there’s obviously been a marked decline in the total koala population, and (rightly) that there’s not enough data to show it meets the criteria for listing as a threatened species.
- 2011: Senate Environment Reference Committee reports there were 10 million koalas when Europeans arrived — the same settlers who took 15 years to find one.
- 2018: NSW releases a $45 million Koala Strategy which aims to “stabilise and then increase koala numbers”, chiefly by creating 24,000 hectares of new koala parks. That same year NSW’s Department of Primary Industry (DPI) publishes research showing that koala numbers are five times higher than previously thought on the north coast and are not affected in any way by logging.
- 2020: NSW Koala Inquiry finds that, given the loss of koalas in the Black Summer megafires (caused by gross failure to manage the bush with hazard reduction burns and sustainable logging), koalas will be extinct by 2050 unless there’s urgent government intervention to protect habitat.
- 2021: NSW budget announcement ‘commits’ $193 million to doubling koala numbers by 2050.
- 2022 (January 29): Seven months after the submissions deadline, there has been no public report or ministerial decision on the assessment. Nevertheless Prime Minister Morrison announces a four-year, $50 million plan to ‘save’ koalas.
Millions and millions just thrown down the drain…
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