In 2020, the Australian bushfires wreaked havoc on Koalas. Of the estimated 85,000 koalas left in Australia, the fires impacted more than 60,000 of the marsupials, leaving thousands homeless and the entire koala species now threatened with possible extinction in parts of Australia by 2050.
And the problem is far from over. One year on from the devastating bushfires, climate change continues to make extreme events like bushfires more likely and more intense, with record-breaking temperatures and severe drought down under. This means forests are more at risk than ever before and firefighters have less access to water supplies to fight the blazes. At its hottest, Australia recorded temperatures of 49.9 degrees in the bushfire crisis and by 2050, the probability of extreme fire risk is set to increase 25% as a direct result of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Over 19 million hectares of land was impacted by the fires in 2020 – that’s more than half the size of the entire UK.
Essity, the company behind the Cushelle brand, today announces a special partnership with WWF, pledging £150,000 to support the recovery of Koalas impacted by the fires and their habitats. The partnership also involves removing the brand’s iconic ‘Kenny the Koala’ from three million of its packs in a bid to help raise awareness of the disappearing species.
Eucalyptus trees are home to hundreds of species in Australia and are the main source of food for koalas. In New South Wales alone, over 5 million hectares of eucalyptus forests and woodlands were destroyed in the 2020 fires.
Commenting on the crisis, Paul De Ornellas, Chief Adviser on Wildlife at WWF says: “The koala is one of the world’s most iconic animals and they are an integral part of the Australian bush, perched high in the trees, sleeping up to 18 hours per day and munching through up to 1kg of eucalypts leaves each day.
“Koalas were already classed as vulnerable before 2020, but after last year’s terrible bushfires, and with the climate emergency making further fires increasingly likely in the future, the species is now at enormous risk. Without our help, it’s predicted that koalas could be lost from Eastern Australia as early as 2050.”
“Koalas actually play a vital role in keeping the forests they live in healthy, so losing them would also be catastrophic for other animals and plants. Thanks to all the leaves they eat high in the trees, koalas help light to get through to the forest floor, allowing more plants to thrive. As koalas feed, they break branches and drop leaves, making them available to other creatures on the ground. Even their droppings provide for food for insects and small mammals.”
Jo Pybus, Sustainability Manager at Essity, added: “The ongoing impact of the bushfires is incredibly worrying. We are not only donating to the cause to help aid the rehabilitation of the animals and their habitat but are also working closely with WWF to raise awareness of the issue and the longer-term implications.
“We hope that our #SaveKoalasSaveKenny campaign will bring British consumers attention back to the crisis and in turn make a significant difference to our mascot Kenny’s marsupial friends down under.”
Shoppers can contribute to the cause by buying a special donation pack of Cushelle Original. Available in major supermarkets nationwide, both instore and online.
For more information about the initiative and how you can help too, visit www.cushelle.com/wwf, follow the brand on Instagram @CushelleUK or Facebook @CushelleTissue, or search the hashtag #SaveKoalasSaveKenny.