BEAR: The Wilderness Society will hold a koala forum at the Civic Centre next month to raise awareness about declining habitat.
BEAR: The Wilderness Society will hold a koala forum at the Civic Centre next month to raise awareness about declining habitat.

Koala numbers reach tipping point in growing region

ORGANISERS hope a forum to raise awareness about the devastating loss of koala habitat will be a turning point for Ipswich.

Ipswich's record-breaking population growth has resulted in new housing developments sprawling into bushland areas.

To raise awareness of the dwindling koala population, Wilderness Society has organised a community forum in the heart of Ipswich.

Figures released in the 2017 Queensland Koala Expert Panel Report revealed 80 per cent of the koala population had been lost in the past 20 years.

Wilderness Society community organiser Kaine Johnson hopes the Ipswich forum will be a turning point in the ongoing fight to protect the marsupials.

"If something isn't done there is serious potential for us to lose koalas from the wild in the southeast Queensland region," he said.

Mr Johnson said habitat loss through urban sprawl had been the main contributing factor in the loss of koalas.

With Ipswich's population growing at 4.43 per cent, the region could be considered the epicentre of the problem, Mr Johnson said.

"If we don't do anything we will not have any koalas in the wild in the next 50 years," he said.

"Koalas are indicative on what's happening to other species.

We need the collective community to say we are behind this.

"I think we're on the brink of something really special."

He hoped the forum would put the matter at the forefront of politicians' minds.

"We want our decision makers to know this matters to people," he said.

"When they're made aware of the statistics they're almost always outraged.

"Something can be done and we want residents to be informed."

He insists the group is not anti-development but said there was an alternative.

"There is a whole bunch of already cleared land," he said.

Mr Johnson said Ipswich City Council's policy of locking land for koala habitat was promising, but not enough to slow the rapid decline of population.

"What we've been doing hasn't been enough," he said.

"There's something to be said for offset, maintaining habitat, but it has to be informed by experts and science.

"Buying up little isolated patches of land that isn't really reflective of the land cleared is not a solution."

The forum will be held in partnership with the Environmental Defenders' Office and Ipswich Residents and Ratepayers Association.

Mr Johnson said the forum would focus on planning legislation, "why it is failing us, how it can be reformed and the impacts that these reforms will have on communities in and around Ipswich".

He wants people to come along and make their views known to the State Government.

"The best thing they can do is contact their decision makers and let them know they're not happy," he said.

"All they need is to know people care and they are watching it."

The koala forum will be held on December 9 from 11am at Ipswich Civic Centre.

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