- by cnn
- 30 May 2023
Almost 4,000 hectares of koala habitat in the Hunter region of New South Wales will be protected after the land was privately acquired for conservation.
Sydney philanthropists Andrew and Jane Clifford bought the property north of Newcastle, which scientists from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) estimate is habitat for more than 100 vertebrate species, including the endangered koala and 11 other animals listed as threatened.
The property is surrounded on three sides by largely intact forest, including the Ghin-Doo-Ee national park to the east and two other privately-owned forested blocks. Connected forests are important for wildlife conservation because they allow animals to move freely from place to place.
The AWC will manage the site under a conservation agreement, focusing on weed management, feral animal control and fire management, with the ecological improvements tracked and measured on a yearly basis.
The koala populations of NSW, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory were listed as endangered this year, and a 2020 NSW parliamentary inquiry found the species would be extinct in the state by 2050 unless governments took urgent action to protect koala habitat and turn the declines around.
Governments are increasingly looking to private landholders to enhance conservation efforts. The Australian Land Conservation Alliance has said more support for voluntary conservation by landholders is needed because more than 60% of land in Australia is privately held but less than 2% of this area is managed for nature.
Earlier this year, the Victorian government announced a $31m boost for private land conservation work.
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