Nearly 14% of land cleared in Queensland in 2018-2019 was koala habitat

Analysis by The Wilderness Society (TWS) of data from the Queensland Government’s Statewide Landcover and Trees Survey (SLATS) showed that nearly 14% of the 680,688 hectares (ha) of land cleared in Queensland in 2018-2019 was known or likely koala habitat. 

“The data in this analysis would be concerning at any time, but coming out within a month of the announcement that koalas were declared endangered, it is even more concerning,” said Jon Ferguson, Nature Campaigner for the Queensland Conservation Council (QCC). 

“Whilst the data is from 2018 to 2019, and the government launched its 5-year koala conservation strategy in 2020, this data is still problematic.

“For one, the koala conservation strategy only commits to the rehabilitation and restoration of 10,000 ha of koala habitat. What was cleared in 2018-2019 is 9 times that much. This means the rehabilitation and restoration efforts are already behind, and we don’t yet even know how much known or likely koala habitat was cleared in 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 (the first year of the strategy).

“For another, the strategy only covers South East Queensland (SEQ). However, the data from SLATS is not just for SEQ but for the state as a whole. And, as we know, koala habitat is not just limited to SEQ.

“That’s why QCC will be calling on the Palaszczuk Government to uplift the status of koalas in Queensland to ‘endangered’, as it is federally, and to expand the koala conservation strategy to cover the entire state and to rehabilitate and restore more than 10,000 ha.” 

TWS’s data analysis further found that, out of the almost 93,000 ha of koala habitat cleared, almost 80% (73,825 ha) was cleared for beef production.

“Whilst the beef industry has recently announced a plan to release a scorecard that can be used to show the impact of beef production on a property’s biodiversity, including koala habitats, soil conditions, carbon emissions, and water management, this data shows that a lot of beef production currently relies on the destruction of koala habitat.

“There is still a long way to go before producers can claim that their beef is ‘deforestation-free’ and we need the government, beef producers, retailers, conservationists and shoppers to join forces to initially slow and eventually halt the clearing of koala habitats.” 

 

For further information and comment contact: 

Jon Ferguson, Nature Campaigner, Queensland Conservation Council

0431 470 328