Many people around the world know the Koala as an emblem of Australia. In Australia we know only too well that many if not most of our remaining Koala colonies are under threat from unrelenting urban progress in areas near Brisbane and Sydney in particular (1). Urban progress is not incompatible with some genuine efforts to save an important and valuable face of Australian tourism as well as wildlife in terms of strategic preservation of some key habitats and related green corridors in support of this. Sydney koala habitats are particularly important as they contain the last remaining chlamydia-free Koalas in Australia (we are informed) (2) – and thus could be the key to the future survival of the species.
So we are not impressed with news that one of the last remaining key Koala habitats around Sydney is being destroyed under the cover of a very cynical trick or ‘scam’ as it rightfully is described by a recent article (3). The Developers apparently made a secret agreement with a local council to engage in a devious deception going under the misuse of the term ‘biodiversity off-setting’ – which in effect means we have an agreement to completely raze a valuable koala habitat area and pretend we have somehow transferred this to a nearby parkland area in reality and not just as a convenient fiction.
The story made me think of my own discovery some years ago of ‘the last tree in Borneo’ hypothesis. This concerns the Developers who with the agreement of basically corrupt local governments are cutting down all the rainforests and then growing palm oil plantations instead which cannot sustain even a fraction of all the plants, animals and rich ecology of before (4). Having been involved in several projects in Borneo I had come to the insight that these people just will never stop until they actually cut down the last tree in Borneo. And whilst Australia is quite a different situation in terms of trees, the analogy seems to at least apply that the Developers and their cynical local government partners will probably just keep paying lip-service and ‘make-pretend’ until literally the last Koala is gone (which may not be too far away).
This is despite how there may be a few other councils that are making a more genuine effort to preserve some areas to assist Koalas (5). ‘Biodiversity offsetting’ can be seen as another version of what some call ‘greenwashing’ – pretending to be concerned about the environment (i.e. ‘green’) whilst cynically exploiting this to profiteer and/or deceive all concerned (6). The only bit of justice in this story is that since this story was reported a couple of weeks ago, the developer concerned (Lendlease) has just had some very nasty news (7). Maybe Karma does ultimately operate for corporate and bureaucratic crooks also?