MEDIA RELEASE for 4 May, 2018 - Peak group Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) has welcomed the release of the final report from the Koala Expert Panel, and the Palaszczuk government’s proposed responses.
The Koala Expert Panel’s report highlights the precarious situation that koalas in the southeast Queensland region are in, with up to 80% of populations lost in the last twenty years. The main factor impacting on koalas is loss of habitat through land clearing and development, with cars, domestic dogs and disease adding to the pressures.
The Panel has recommended a suite of actions be taken at the state and local government level, including measures to protect existing key habitat areas within and outside of the urban footprint, actions to create regenerated areas for habitation, a new overarching koala strategy and a high level Advisory Council to provide policy direction and monitor progress.
The government’s proposed responses include “support” for a number of recommendations, along with other “support in principle” comments on others. QCC will now study the fine details in both documents, and seek clarification on the specific proposed actions to help save Queensland’s faunal emblem from becoming extinct in the wild in the southeast of the state.
“This Experts Report highlights the need to act swiftly to protect koalas in southeast Queensland”, said Queensland Conservation Council head Dr Tim Seelig.
“Queenslanders love having koalas in their backyards, and one of the things that makes the southeast part of the state special is our native wildlife that we can see up close.
“Sadly, we are losing our wild koalas at a rapid rate, due to loss of remaining habitat and the dangerous environments and places that these native animals are being left to survive in.
“We urge the Palaszczuk government to act quickly and decisively to ensure the state’s Faunal Emblem does not become extinct in the wild in southeast Queensland.
“Previous koala plans, strategies and policies in Queensland have had had very limited success in protecting the animals and their habitats. We now need to put the koalas first in key areas, and find alternative places for new housing and other development.
“Protecting the remaining koala habitat that we still have, creating new habitats through restoration and regeneration of woodlands, and ensuring that we have those areas properly protected from development and clearing, are all essential steps to be taken.
“The land clearing reforms passed in Parliament last night will go some way to help protect the woodlands that koalas depend on. But we will need more action. We urge the Palaszczuk government to use all the powers the state has through planning laws to protect our koalas.
“We believe there is a strong case for an immediate moratorium on any clearing of koala habitat within the Southeast Queensland region, at least until proper mapping has been incorporated into state and local government plans with strong environmental protections.
“We believe the Koala should now be formally declared Endangered in Southeast Queensland. It is tragic that this should be necessary, but it will signify how dire the situation now is.
“If we don’t act swiftly and decisively, we risk losing all our wild populations of koalas in southeast Queensland in just a few more years. This will mean we have witnessed the demise of our state animal, and a key indicator of the health of our regional environments.
For further comment contact: Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig on 0439 201 183