Appin is a very important place for koalas. Surrounded and connected with prime koala habitat, it supports the only disease free and growing colony of koalas in Greater Sydney. Appin is so important to koalas they have a "big koala" in the township. Unfortunately, nearly every inch of land surrounding Appin was bought by a conglomerate of property developers who have lobbied the government to rezone this environmentally sensitive land, using the housing crisis to exploit an area which has no water, sewage, public transport, or community facilities. This half-baked solution is also against the recommendations of the NSW Productivity Commission who support building up not out due to these obvious shortfalls.
On 30th June 2023 the NSW Government approved the Appin (Part) Precinct which will see 12,900 homes built by Walker Corporation in an area that currently only supports 3,000 people. The sheer numbers of people, cars, and dogs will place a huge threat on the koala colony, not to mention the large amount of land clearing that will occur, leading to fragmentation of corridors creating dead ends.
"The decision on the massive Walker development in Appin flies in the face of the government’s promised commitment to Koala protection. Environment Minister Sharpe admitted in Parliament the Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan (CPCP), upon which the development is justified, needs urgent review – and it has yet to receive Commonwealth consent,’’ said Jeff Angel, Director of the Total Environment Centre.
As part of the planning process, the NSW Department of Planning's own Environment and Heritage Group (EHG) had criticised this proposal. The EHG's concerns included:
- inappropriate zoning of Koala corridors for development
- inappropriate land uses proposed for the Koala corridors
- inconsistencies with the Office of Chief Scientist and Engineer Advice on the protection of the Campbelltown Koalas
- inadequate consideration of flooding impacts
The Campbelltown and Wollondilly koala colonies where the CPCP is centred are highly important as they contain the largest connected area of koala persistence within the Sydney Basin Bioregion. This means koalas have persisted in the same places for at least 3 generations, and up to 6 in some areas. The areas where koalas are persisting is expanding from Wedderburn into Appin. Campbelltown and Wollondilly LGAs are home to a breeding koala population that is expanding to the north, west and south-west.
According to the The CPCP Sub Plan B (pictured), there are six East-West koala corridors connecting the Georges River to the Nepean River, however many of them have been fragmented, with the possibility of only one being left for koalas to move through the landscape. The Elladale Creek and Simpson Creek corridor (F) runs right through the proposed Appin Precinct development by Walker Corp. While currently this corridor is patchy on the Eastern side, any hope of “widening and restoring” this corridor will be dashed if the Appin Precinct goes ahead, as it will permanently sever the remaining koala habitat, rendering this corridor a dead-end.
This will push koalas onto the Appin roads which are already notorious koala kill-zones. Over half of recorded vehicle strikes in the Sydney Basin occur in the Campbelltown/Wollondilly area (Biolink 2023), and this development approval will see the number of cars on the road increase tenfold. This move will see our only healthy, growing koala population in Sydney face their own housing crisis with their movement severely restricted. We expect numbers to plummet.
If NSW is serious about recovering our koala population, we need to ensure our only healthy and growing koala population can move freely through the landscape to find new habitat and mates. We should be widening and restoring corridors, instead development in south-west Sydney is boxing koalas in.
The planned development will completely change the face of Appin. Pictured in yellow is the current township of Appin. The light red areas marks where new development is planned. Pushing development further west is bad for koalas, bad for the city and bad for future residents. Sydney needs a Koala Greenbelt to stop urban sprawl into koala habitat.