SYDNEY, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Seven million hectares of koala habitat in Australian State of New South Wales (NSW) is located in deforestation hot spots, according to a report released by conservation groups on Wednesday.
Compiled by The Wilderness Society, WWF Australia and other prominent conservation groups, the report revealed that 17 of the top 20 deforestation sites in NSW contain substantial areas of koala habitat.
WWF Australia conservation scientist Martin Taylor told Xinhua that "there's coincidence of clearing hot spots and koala habitats which we believe explains why the koalas are in such trouble."
According to Taylor, not just koalas, but all manner of native Australian fauna are killed when deforestation takes place, and even if they are displaced, conflict with other animals can mean an unhappy ending regardless.
The Wilderness Society National Director Lyndon Schneider said, "The koala is facing an extinction epidemic in NSW, with some estimates saying this iconic animal could be extinct in the state by 2050."
"A third of the koala population has been wiped out in NSW in just 20 years, while the North Coast koala population has been slashed in half."
Both sides of government in NSW have plans to create koala sanctuaries if they gain power in next year's state election, which Taylor said his organization strongly supports, although more could always be done to protect the species.
"That's great to have more national parks to protect koala habitat, but ultimately we also need strong laws for all the koala and wildlife habitat that's outside national parks."