AUSTRALIAN STATE ANNOUNCES 33.8 MLN USD DOLLARS PLAN TO PROTECT KOALA

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SYDNEY, The New South Wales (NSW) State government in Australia has announced a 45 million Australian dollars (33.81 million U.S. dollars) plan on Monday, to protect the country's declining koala population.

As part of the new strategy, 25,000 hectares of State forest will be set aside for the beloved animal, and a new koala hospital will open to care for the cuddly critters.

"Koalas are a national treasure." NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, "This strategy will ensure there are far more of them in the wild."

The announcement came on the heels of a 2016 review by the state's chief scientist Professor Mary O'Kane, which found a 26 percent decline in the koala population over the last 20 years.

As a result, over 20,000 hectares of land on the Far North Coast, Upper Hunter, Central Coast, Hawkesbury and Southern Highlands will be prioritized and managed as koala reserves.

Another 4,000 hectares of koala habitat on the Mid-North Coast will also be acquired by the National Parks Estate.

"It is absolutely vital that we protect land where koalas currently live and secure land where new koala colonies may exist in the future," NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said.

A new koala hospital will also open in the township of Port Stephens to provide specialist care for sick and injured koalas.

The government also plans to launch a hotline for injured koalas and fund research into diseases and natural hazards affecting the animal.

On top of this, new fences will be prioritized along roadkill hot spots to prevent further wildlife deaths.

The strategy is set to be implemented over next three years.

Source: NAMNEWS NETWORK