A new facility helping koalas readjust to bush life after suffering injuries has just been unveiled in Appin.
The pre-release facility will be run by WIRES and was established in partnership with Walker Corporation and Wollondilly Council.
It includes two koala recovery pens and shelters with climbing areas and forks, designed to provide a safe, quiet an natural environment for koalas to enjoy before their release back into the bush.
WIRES chief executive Leanne Taylor said the pre-release facility was critical for the local koala population.
"Our volunteers have worked around the clock to care for injured koalas during the recent bushfires and in times of crisis it is facilities like these which can make a difference and give injured koalas the best chance to return to the bush," she said.
"In the past we did not have a facility of this kind in Macarthur for koalas to reacclimatise before they were released and that's why this project will make such a difference.
"This facility will allow our volunteers to monitor recovering koalas through CCTV from both a site office at the facility and remotely from their iPhones."
Wollondilly mayor Matthew Deeth said he hoped the facility could be complemented by a hospital for injured koalas.
He said it could only take one serious fire to wipe out the unique, chlamydia-free koala population and the pre-release facility was an important step in saving lives.
"In any emergency situation our first priority is always our community, but our native wildlife can be forgotten and overlooked in these disasters, especially our unique koala population," Cr Deeth said.
"Apart from bushfire threat, our koalas are already at risk from development, roads and disease. We need to make sure processes are in place to ensure the survival of this iconic species."
Cr Deeth said he was happy to see the new facility opened and looked forward to seeing more local rehabilitation opportunities for our koalas.
The facility's pens include koala feed trees that will help ensure recovering koalas are able to look after themselves independently before they are released into the bush.
Walker Corporation senior development manager Oliver Roborgh said the company was "excited to be working on solutions" to address the challenges local koalas face.
"We're pleased to be able to work in partnership with WIRES and their many volunteers who give up their time to care for injured and sick koalas," he said.
"Walker has made a long-term commitment to the Macarthur region and the people who live there and we are committed to ensuring we are having a positive impact on the environment, particularly on the region's much-loved koala colony."