The state government has committed to greater protection of koalas in Macarthur by officially adopting 31 protection recommendations in its new Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan.
Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the plan would put the protection of the region's Chlamydia-free koala colonies at the heart of planning in the south-west.
"After seeking advice from the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer on the draft Plan, I'm pleased to confirm we are adopting all 31 recommendations to protect our critical koala population," Mr Stokes said.
"We have updated the plan to protect additional areas of habitat and ensure that wildlife corridors are suitable for koala movement."
The first of the 31 recommendations called on the government to prioritise koala conservation in its planning decisions and frameworks.
"Through the plan, we have identified and protected upfront the most important habitat for species' population viability and connectivity," the recommendation response document states.
"The plan removes these areas from future development and will help protect them by incorporating them into local and regional plans to guide future development in the nominated growth areas.
"The plan's conservation program comprises 26 commitments designed to improve ecological resilience and protect biodiversity over the 35-year life of the plan."
Other recommendations include: restoring koala habitat; connecting koala corridors; widening koala corridors where feasible; active management to prevent habitat degradation; overpasses and underpasses where required; and more.
The document stated that the government was working with Transport for NSW to include safe passages for koala movements in future infrastructure upgrades.
"This includes collaborating on the design of major transport corridors such as the Outer Sydney Orbital (OSO)," it said.
"Future infrastructure will be designed to minimise impacts on threatened species and koala movement corridors including at Wianamatta Regional Park and South Creek (OSO Stage 1), and in the Appin area (OSO Stage 2).
"We are working with Transport for NSW and WaterNSW to design suitable structures to allow safe passage across Appin Road and the Upper Canal."
Western Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres said the Macarthur koala population was one of the healthiest colonies in the state and one which continued to grow.
"It's important that we support the region's koala population while also managing a growing community in Sydney's south-west," Mr Ayres said.
"This area is also rich in significant Aboriginal culture and history, and we're committed to working more closely with Local Aboriginal Land Councils and Traditional Custodians to preserve this in our planning for the community."
Environment Minister Matt Kean said one of the leading threats to koala populations in the wild was the loss and fragmentation of their habitat.
"South-west Sydney is home to the only disease-free koala populations in the Sydney basin, and it is one of the most important koala populations anywhere in the state," Mr Kean said.
"This advice from the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer is crucial in protecting koala habitat in the Campbelltown and Macarthur regions as we finalise the implementation of the CPCP.
"As this part of Sydney continues to grow, these recommendations will guide future development in the area and ensure koala habitat and wildlife corridors are protected in perpetuity."
The Greater Macarthur 2040 Plan is also being finalised, which will work alongside the CPCP to create koala movement corridors, improve connections and allow koalas to travel more safely throughout the region.
The CPCP and Greater Macarthur 2040 Plan are expected to be finalised and released in 2022.
For more information on the CPCP, visit: www.planning.nsw.gov.au/CPCP
Hi! I've been a journalist with the Advertiser newspapers in Macarthur since 2014, covering all sorts of news, entertainment and sport. I also write movie reviews.
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