Australia

Museum examines what a world without koalas would look like

0:00

Conservation groups say wild koalas could be extinct in NSW by 2050.

A pop-up museum has been erected in Sydney's Circular Quay to commemorate the "extinct" koala.

As part of WWF Australia's #savekoalas campaign, the organisation set up the Koala Museum for Sydneysiders to "experience what a future without koalas in the wild could be like".

A skull of an "extinct" koala at the exhibition.
A skull of an "extinct" koala at the exhibition.
SBS News

The museum is based on dinosaur exhibitions and features taxidermy koalas and skeletal remains.

WWF Australian forest and woodland conservation policy manager Stuart Blanch said "the thought of koalas becoming extinct was almost unimaginable just a few years ago".

"This Koala Museum demonstrates the sad reality if we don't take action now," he said.

WWF Australia has imagined a future without koalas.
WWF Australia has imagined a future without koalas.
SBS News

According to WWF Australia, there are less than 20,000 koalas left in NSW and at the current rate of decline, they are on track to be extinct in the state by as early as 2050.

"This is largely due to the rampant destruction of koala habitat. In just one small part of NSW, 14 hectares of koala habitat was bulldozed each day in 2017-18," material from the organisation says.

'A global deforestation hotspot'

It comes as a coalition of conservation organisations have come together to raise awareness about how new deforestation laws are driving koalas to extinction.

"Koala numbers are plummeting in NSW," Wilderness Society national director Lyndon Schneiders said on Friday.

"Deforestation rates have escalated in NSW and Eastern Australia is now a global deforestation hotspot. We need new laws to turn this around."

Koala habit is being under threat in NSW.
Koala habit is being under threat in NSW.
Koala

"We want people to understand that koalas face extinction unless we stop destroying their homes, which means ending deforestation and the bulldozing of habitat."

While NSW Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said in on district of northwest NSW, trees have been "bulldozed at a rate of about 14 football fields a day".

"We know what the solution is. We need strong new laws to end deforestation and start restoring degraded habitat so wildlife like koalas can thrive."

"That's why we are advocating for law reform to protect high-conservation-value forest and bushland, and to set up a biodiversity and carbon fund to pay landholders to restore degraded areas."

In September, a report by WWF Australia and the NSW Nature Conservation Council found since the repeal of the state's Native Vegetation Act in 2017, koalas have lost more than 5,000 hectares of habitat in northern NSW.

The report said the rate of native bushland clearing in Moree and Collarenebri has nearly tripled.

The NSW government replaced the law with controversial land-cleared codes which allow property owners to clear sections of native bushland without prior environmental assessment.

Additional reporting: AAP

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch