March 2010

Over the last few weeks I have been talking with my Chairman and our Board about the way forward for 2010. Next year the AKF will be 25 years old and we are all very proud of what we have achieved in that time. Millions of dollars worth of science and mapping, millions of dollars worth of education to children from  all  over the world, millions of

dollars of fundraising by everyday people, but in spite of all that wonderful effort, the fact is that the plight of the koala continues to get worse (map - koala numbers). There are still 4 Founding Board members on our Board - our Founder Mr Barry Scott, our current Chairman Mr Bob Gibson, our Research Chairman Dr John Woolcock, and 'the father of koala medicine' Dr Russ Dickens, and they, with current Board members, continually debate at our monthly board meeting about what else we can do. Why does the koalas plight get worse? Why don’t sustainable solutions get implemented? Why don’t people get it that the environment is our life blood?

Honestly, the only answer to those questions is the fact that our politicians have no political will to save it. Truly there is no other reason, and worse still is that they rely on donations from developers, loggers, and coal miners to fund their campaigns. It is as simple as that! In recent days the Director General of the department responsible for koalas here in Queensland asked me to meet with him. He is new and he said we could 'set the agenda'. I went back to my files and I could see years and years of agendas that we have set in the past with his predecessors. It was truly depressing and I have declined to meet with him. AKF has put hundreds of real life practical solutions on this table and many others in our 25 year history, and by and large they are ignored with the exception of Koala Beach – a development that continues to thrive.

So, what am I going to do this year? I am going bush. I have been asked to go into the bush and meet with people who want to show me what is happening in their part of the woods. I never go anywhere by the way unless there is a koala. Somehow or other that tells me that the AKF has the right to go there. There is pretty much nowhere on the east coast of Australia that doesn’t have koalas. I am going to go and see what is happening and I am going to show you all – in graphic detail. We are going to get new staff with new skills. One of them is Jon Michael (JM) – a cameraman – and he and I are going to document what is going on. You can see some of his work on the videos on our website. Next week we go to the South East forests of New South Wales where logging is soon to occur in a beautiful forest that has 50 koalas, and by and large we know that this activity will destroy the bush and everything in it. Do you believe that? Is that true?. Is there such a thing as sustainable logging? I personally think so, but in my whole 22 year history at AKF, I have never seen it. Why? Because everyone is always wanting more. That is what I saw in Copenhagen. Everyone talking about saving things, but not actually living it. My personal resolution this year was that 'actions and words have to match'. I do think sustainable everything is possible, but that it is only possible when you have good information which allows good decisions. This is why I believe our Koala Habitat Maps are so valuable and our mapping future is assured.

In recent weeks I went to Gunnedah in Western New South Wales to meet with a group that want to stop coal mining destroying arable land. Land where our Corn flakes come from. Land where our sunflower oil comes from. Land where our meat comes from. By and large all this area is now subject to coal leases, and in the coming weeks as we put all these issues on our website, I think you will be shocked at what our beautiful Australia will become in the future. I think you will also be shocked to read how much those coal companies are paying our politicians. More of that later.

So, I am currently interviewing for new staff. Staff that will help me get these issues to you. Community Liasion people that can make sure every image JM takes takes will be up on our website for all to see. Staff that can help me communicate what I have been watching for so long. My frustrations levels are so high. Our Board has committed millions of dollars of science and by and large it is ignored, just like in the Copenhagen debates.

For too long our Governments have hidden behind secrecy, hoping everything that goes on behind closed doors will not be seen. Worse still, they paint images that the people who oppose the destruction are just 'greenies, 'ferals' and 'tree-huggers'. The woman I met recently, Mrs Duddy, who is campaigning against coal destroying her property, is none of those things. She is a fair dinkum Australian, a woman in her 80’s who has worked this land all her life. She and her fellow blockaders have kept a year long vigil against a coal mining company and let me tell you, I left that blockade (after a great cuppa and cake), with inspiration coming out of my soul.

I do hope that you will all approve of what we are going to do. Science is important, but at this time in history it is more important to inform, to educate, and to inspire all of us to change the world and be a better place.

Would love your comments.
Regards, Deborah