After a decade of hard lobbying, the Australian government just green-lit a brand-new national park designed to protect one of the country’s most iconic species.
As its name suggests, Great Koala National Park, located in the Coffs Harbour Hinterland in New South Wales, will be a utopia for all things koala. It will feature a koala hospital, koala-spotting tours, and an educational center. You’ll be able to spot the little guys sleeping in trees, foraging for leaves, and even rearing their babies. (Heaven, right?) But, more importantly, the new park will protect and connect hundreds of thousands of acres of state forests, protecting critical habitat from timber harvesting and development.
Timber harvesting and other forms of habitat destruction are some of the biggest reasons koalas are currently endangered. Loss of habitat is increasingly driving the animals into urban areas. (Recently, a koala was even spotted wandering the snack aisle in a local gas station.) But development isn’t the only threat. Bushfires in 2019 and 2020 also destroyed huge swaths of forest, killing up to 70 percent of the koalas on the North Coast of Australia.
A timeline for the park has not yet been confirmed. If the plan moves forward as originally proposed, the establishment of the park will include building a cafe and a visitor center to teach guests about koalas as well as the Aboriginal Gumbaynggrr culture, reports NBN news. The park will also offer cultural tours on its numerous hiking trails.
Visitors to the park will be able to wander through the world-famous Gondwana Rainforest and spot dozens of rare birds, including yellow-bellied gliders, greater gliders, glossy black cockatoos, and several species of owls. Australia is also known for its unique reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids (including a giant red spider that was just discovered in Queensland earlier this month). So, while it may be called Great Koala National Park, it promises to be a haven for wildlife of all kinds.
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