Six eastern Aust habitats crucial: report
Unburnt animal habitat across six east Australian forest landscapes must be protected to prevent widespread species extinction, a new report has found.
The World Wide Fund for Nature Australia on Thursday listed six landscapes on Australia's east coast which serve as refuges for threatened plants and animals, particularly after the catastrophic 2019-20 bushfire season.
These include the NSW-Queensland border ranges; Nymboida; the NSW north coast; Yengo-Wollemi; the NSW south coast; and the Gippsland-Eden region.
WWF-Australia on Thursday said the six landscapes were home to at least 62 plant and 21 animal species, as well as 18 ecological communities, which have been listed as threatened under Australian conservation law.
These animals include koalas, lyrebirds, platypuses, grey-headed flying foxes, spotted-tailed quolls, greater gliders and regent honeyeaters.
WWF-Australia will pair with the Environmental Defenders Office and use existing laws to push for the legal protection of the six landscapes.
The not-for-profit also called for all logging in those areas to cease for at least two years, giving authorities the chance to assess animal populations.
"Areas of unburnt forest are now more precious than gold," WWF-Australia chief conservation officer Rachel Lowry said in a statement.
"They should be safe havens for surviving threatened species.
"Some threatened species have had more than 90 per cent of their mapped known or likely-to-occur habitat impacted by fire."
The NSW south coast landscape includes the township of Manyana, where more than 20 hectares of unburnt forest has been slated for clearing.
A proposed housing development for the site was last year placed under "a controlled action" by federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley, meaning it would be further assessed for its environmental impact.
Bill Eger, the president of the Manyana Matters Environmental Association, said he was glad the area's ecological importance was being recognised.
"Since the Black Summer fires, it has become a Noah's Ark for plant and animal species that survived that devastation," Mr Eger said in a statement.
Some 80 per cent of the Shoalhaven local government area's bushland "burned at a very high intensity" in the 2019-20 bushfire season.
Shoalhaven City Council has previously asked the NSW government to purchase the 20 hectares associated with the housing development.
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