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Bunnings or Koalas? 

Koala living near proposed Bunnings development site

A friend shared this article with me on Facebook via the Portland Bay Beacon, a censored local news page in Portland.

Building a Bunnings Hardware over koala habitat is horrifying enough but reading the comments from locals in the news thread saddened me more.  These people live in this town, a town where the silent annihilation of koalas is happening and yet they showed little concern for the welfare of these Koalas.

Comments like…“I’m sure Billy will be fine in any tree” or,  “Do people want to stop development in Portland?” The ignorance of these comments was astounding to me.

Koala food trees are becoming more and more scarce in this area due to habitat clearing. This is why so many Koalas live in and depend on blue gum plantations but many of these are also coming down now. Every remaining tree matters to a koala.  You would think that locals would understand this, given the constant news reports of koalas displaced in the city and how the koalas are “killing” their precious manna gums. Of course there is never any mention in the mainstream media about all the koalas being killed by plantation workers or being left to starve when their plantation homes get taken away. This is not worthy news in Portland because it is not industry friendly.

The general sentiment of these comments and the attitude of the Bunnings representative is that koalas are stopping progress and that justifies ignoring their welfare or placing any value on their life.

The area of Portland is filled with blue gum plantations which is why there are so many koalas in the green triangle but these plantations are now coming down, leaving thousands displaced, literally leaving them to die.

The ignorance of these locals is likely why koalas in the southwest have suffered for so long without any government action or industry reform. The government will only act when their hand is forced, and this usually happens when there is public outcry, or when it influences votes.

What these ignorant people don’t realise is that koalas are scarce outside the green triangle.  They see them as abundant in their town therefore their lives are worth less. It’s despicable. We are battling to save the remaining few in our town and it’s similar all over Victoria.  We can’t get the government to take this seriously because they are prolific in a small pocket of the state, in a place where locals don’t value them.  This place seems like hell on earth for Koalas.  My heart aches for every koala unfortunate enough to live there.

We must continue to educate others outside of this town about the atrocities that are happening to these poor animals in the green triangle. Their suffering is immense and countless are dying every day. Many people in this town have closed their hearts to helping them.  It is up to those who aren’t misled by the dangerous short term thinking that progress is all that matters.  If we can't live in harmony with our natural environment and respect all that depends on it, there is no longterm progress, just extinction.

I would encourage anyone who cares about the future of koalas in this state to write to Bunnings and if you live in the area write to Glenelg Shire. This short term thinking and disregard for the wildlife dependent on this habitat, demonstrates a complete lack of care for country.

BWRAC Helping our Wildlife and their Habitats