Koalas are a big area of focus after bushfires, expert says

Recovery phase: Port Macquarie Koala Hospital volunteer and life member Margaret Hearle checks the progress of Lake Innes Nature Reserve Anwen.

Recovery phase: Port Macquarie Koala Hospital volunteer and life member Margaret Hearle checks the progress of Lake Innes Nature Reserve Anwen.

Koalas in certain parts of the country could be listed as endangered in the wake of devastating fires which took an "extraordinary hit" on the koala population.

Fires have taken a toll on koalas and their habitat but the full extent of the damage is not yet known.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley spoke about the impact on koalas during the announcement of an initial $50 million federal government investment to protect wildlife and restore habitat in response to the bushfire crisis.

Ms Ley stressed a Threatened Species Scientific Committee managed the listing of all endangered species and it was not a government decision based on a set of circumstances.

The minister confirmed she had spoken with the committee chair, Helene Marsh, and said it may be necessary, given the "extraordinary hit" on the koala population, to bring forward an assessment to see whether in certain parts of the country koalas moved from where they were, which was often vulnerable, up to endangered.

"Everything that can be done to rescue and recover koala habitat will be done including some innovative approaches that look at whether you can actually put a koala in an area it hasn't come from, so the best science and the best advice will inform our response," Ms Ley said.

Threatened Species Commissioner Dr Sally Box said the community had been really struck by images of fire-affected koalas and it had been quite heartbreaking.

"Scientists are estimating that maybe 30 per cent of koala habitat has been lost here in northern NSW," she said.

The Crestwood-Lake Cathie fire ripped through crucial koala habitat here, for example.

Habitat has been lost on Kangaroo Island too.

Dr Box said koalas had really taken a hit from the fires.

"It will be some time before we know exactly what that means for their numbers but obviously koalas will be a big area of focus for us," she said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said we all wanted to see koalas thrive and survive but there had been huge damage to their habitat and numbers.

"The truth is we don't know the full extent of that damage until it has been mapped and until these fires are over but there is no doubt a large number of koalas have lost their lives, many others have been injured," he said.

Cowper MP Pat Conaghan acknowledged the koala hospital's important work.

The federal government representatives toured Port Macquarie Koala Hospital on Monday before making the wildlife and habitat recovery funding announcement.

The koala hospital has 50 koalas in care from the various fire grounds, while its GoFundMe campaign has reached almost $7 million.

The bulk of the money will be used to establish a wild koala breeding program help rebuild the population after the fires.

Funds are also going towards automatic wildlife drinking stations in fire-affected areas.

This story Fires take an 'extraordinary' hit on koalas, minister says first appeared on Port Macquarie News.