RENOWNED wildlife vet Dr Jon Hanger told the Sunshine Coast Koala Summit it was critical the Sunshine Coast Council took the lead on koala conservation.
"Take the big step and grab hold of the responsibility for local koala conservation and doing what's got to be done now, if local councils don't act now, then they're going to be staring at the extinction of koalas in their areas in the face."
Dr Hanger said the Coast was already experiencing small pockets of extinction.
"More broadly regionally we're looking at the extinction of koalas - the fact is that the tipping point for extinction might have already been passed now," he said.
"We've got to start the process of developing a regional koala management plan and that's got to happen now but it's got to be informed by good scientific research.
"We need to know where the koalas are - where their good habitat is and what's killing them and it's risky to blame koala decline just on loss of habitat, because there are other factors that can have really significant impacts.
"The cold hard fact is that it does come down to money."
Dr Hanger said the Gold Coast in the past few years had poured $2 million into a koala management plan and was looking to spend more.
"That sounds like a lot of money, but if you're staring at the extinction of such an iconic and loved species in the face that's nothing."