WWF's Koalas Forever project will seek to double the population of the species by 2050. Tanya Pritchard, WWF conservationist and Koalas Forever program manager, explains that the WWF project was born two years ago following the summer of fires.
She said: "There were millions of koalas in Australia two hundred years ago. Today there are about 100,000 left, and every year there are fewer and fewer. It's ambitious because their numbers have been declining for years, and not just because of the koalas.
But we have a program built on five pillars that are already bringing substantial investment in conservation and restocking, and we want to do more and more. There are areas that are particularly important because they are expected to be less affected by climate change, and will remain therefore a precious and intact habitat where koalas can take refuge.
We are talking about even very large areas, because koalas have a very wide and varied range: if an area hosts koalas it means that it is healthy, and that the other species who live there are fine. Much of the koala habitat today is fragmented, interrupted by clearings caused by cuts or fires: for this we are working, also with the collaboration of pop local operations, to build ecological corridors for koalas to cross safely.
We are replanting a lot of trees: this year alone, and in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales alone, we have planted more than 150,000 plants, eucalyptus and more. In February of this year, the government changed the koala's classification from vulnerable to endangered.
This has affected the nation very much, and the government itself has stepped up investments and seems to be more attentive to the situation. The same goes for the population, which after the black summer has realized that there are so few koalas left that every single one counts: that's why we also have a network of field hospitals that deal with treating injured or orphaned animals, and to reintroduce them into nature with excellent results so far and a very high survival rate. Koalas are a symbol: if we can't save them either, what hope do we have for the rest of the planet?"