Australian animals called koalas could disappear from New South Wales state by 2050, unless the state government immediately acts to protect them. That is the finding of a year-long state parliament investigation of the marsupials.
Marsupials are mammals with an unusual system of reproduction. Most, including koalas, are born when they are just embryos. The little koala then takes shelter for months in a pouch on its mother’s body. Newborns, called joeys, stay in the safe, warm place for months, while they continue to develop.
Koalas are among Australia’s most beloved animals.
Lawmakers in the New South Wales’ upper house of Parliament released the report on Tuesday. It said land clearing for agriculture, urban development, mining and forestry are threatening the koalas’ survival. Such operations destroy koala habitat. Koalas live in eucalyptus forests. The trees provide shelter and food for the koalas. They eat eucalyptus leaves.
But, the state’s most recent fire season, aided by severely dry weather, was unusually long and proved disastrous for koalas. The investigation found that about 25 percent of koala habitat across the state was destroyed. The report also said that, in some parts of New South Wales, or NSW for short, fires destroyed as much as 81 percent of the habitat.
“The evidence could not be more stark,” the report reads, adding “The only way our children’s grandchildren will see a koala in the wild in NSW will be if the government acts” on the report’s suggested measures.
The parliamentary committee heading the investigation includes lawmakers from several political parties. The report advises that the government take 42 actions to deal with the problem.
One calls for immediately counting koalas in New South Wales. Another advises that the government place the protection of the animals above urban development. And it calls for more money to support efforts to save the environment.
Stuart Blanch is an expert on land clearing and restoration at the Australian office of the WWF, or World Wide Fund for Nature. He called on the government to do as the report advises and to strengthen protections for areas where the animals live.
“WWF calls on the NSW Premier to rewrite weak land clearing laws to protect the koala habitat,” Blanch said in a statement. He also said that the government should provide increased economic support to farmers who actively protect eucalyptus trees and stop wood industry operations in koala habitats.
The Premier of New South Wales is Gladys Berejiklian. A spokesperson for her administration said the government would comment on the report after a period of consideration. The official added that New South Wales had already provided more than $30 million to protect koalas.
I’m Caty Weaver.
Reuters reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted the story for Learning English.
Words in This Story
pouch –n. pocket of skin on the stomachs of some female animals (such as kangaroos and koalas) that is used to carry young
stark –adj. very plain and easily seen
grandchildren –n. children of a person's son or daughter
restoration –n. the act or process of returning something to its original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.
We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.