Nearly 5000 people have signed a Wollondilly Council petition to protect the Macarthur region’s koala habitat.
The council needs 10,000 signatures to take the petition to the Legislative Assembly for debate.
Councillor Matthew Deeth said he was “blown away” by the level of community response.
“The voice of the community is strong and the politicians need to stand up and listen,” he said.
The council started the petition after the state government rezoned the South East Precinct of Wilton New Town.
The development is proposed to cut through Allen’s Creek Corridor at Wilton, which is a significant corridor for Wollondilly’s koala population.
Councillors and council staff believe the decision will endanger the long term viability of the koala population in Wilton because it will remove critical habitat and movement corridors.
Residents are being asked to sign the council’s petition for the rezoning to be repealed and replaced with a zoning that protects the koalas’ habitat.
Councillor Michael Banasik said 5000 signatures in only a couple of months was a good result.
“We are halfway there,” he said.
“I have never seen an issue talked about on social media and in the pub more than the koalas.
“I encourage everyone to sign the petition.”
A council-organised koala forum will also be held later this year to bring together experts and representatives from state government departments and agencies to start planning for a koala policy in the region.
The council and residents have put up green ‘save our koala’ signs around the shire to help raise awareness.
“The signs are bringing basic awareness of the koala issue to the residents who might not know about their plight,” Cr Deeth said.
The region’s unique and clamydia-free koala population is estimated to be between 350 to 400, based on research carried out by University of Western Sydney professor Rob Close and comprehensive survey work coordinated by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage for the Wollondilly Koala Conservation Project.
The petition was in the winter edition of the community newsletter which was posted to all Wollondilly residents last week.
Details: Copies of the petiton are available in the council foyer or at the Picton Library or you can download, print off and sign a copy of the petition here.
The signatures must be handwritten and posted to the council.
Please return the petition page to the Council Administration Building (62-64 Menangle Street, Picton) or by Reply Paid post: Wollondilly Shire Council Reply Paid 21 Picton NSW 2571