The koala was hit by a car and left for dead on the highway near the Lyons Road intersection.
The koala was hit by a car and left for dead on the highway near the Lyons Road intersection. Contributed

A graphic reminder of a population on the brink

OUR koala population is being pushed to the brink.

Residents already concerned about the level of development in the Sawtell and Toormina district had a graphic reminder of this earlier in the week.

A koala was hit and killed on the road and its body left lying on the south side of the Lyons Road/Pacific Highway overpass.

Dave Wood is one of the residents fighting a 57 lot subdivision at Sawtell Road and he says this will happen more often if the development goes ahead.

The development site includes about six hectares which is recognised and mapped as Primary Koala Habitat in the Coffs Harbour City Council Koala Plan of Management 1999.

Coffs Harbour has one of the largest koala populations in NSW and our council is one of the few in NSW that has developed such a plan. It aims to apply a consistent approach to the protection of the local koala population and is guided by a Koala Advisory Management Committee.

Being slow on the ground koalas are vulnerable on our roads and dog attacks are also responsible for a large percentage of deaths each year.

With some experts warning koalas could become extinct in our lifetime, and bypass construction likely to impact the population directly to the north, Mr Wood believes it's now or never for council to prove they're serious about upholding their own environmental policies when considering further development in the area.

"We've already lost so much land zoned as primary koala habitat so this is crunch time for council as far as making their environmental controls stick and saving face."

Koala populations in NSW are under 20, 0000, a tiny fraction of what they once were. Almost every koala population in NSW is believed to be in decline and, on the north coast, koala numbers are estimated to have fallen by 50 per cent in just the last 20 years.