Strongest protections for SEQ Koalas
The Palaszczuk Government today launched the new South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy 2020-2025, which includes the strongest koala protections Queensland has ever seen, along with $1.4 million for koala research grants.
At John Oxley Reserve today, Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said this is a significant step for koala conservation and a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect our much-loved native icon.
“The landmark South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy 2020-2025 will protect koala populations in the wild and their habitat while supporting Queensland’s plan for economic recovery,” Minister Enoch said.
“This Strategy sets a vision for halting the decline of koala populations in the wild in south east Queensland and securing their long-term survival.”
The SEQ Koala Conservation Strategy 2020-2025 supports all six of the independent Koala Expert Panel’s recommendations for koala conservation and sets four targets including stabilising south east Queensland’s koala population numbers, achieving a net gain in core koala habitat area, and commencing work to restore 10,000 hectares of koala habitat.
In February this year, new regulatory mapping was introduced identifying more than 577,000 hectares in south east Queensland as being within a Koala Priority Area (KPA), which includes core koala habitat areas and areas suitable for rehabilitation and restoration.
These are the strongest koala protections ever introduced in Queensland.
“Under this Strategy, protection of Queensland’s koala habitat has been increased to more than five times the size of the previous area.”
“Total koala habitat areas now cover 716,266 hectares of land across South East Queensland.
Using an innovative, science-based approach, the world-class mapping will be updated annually to reflect natural changes in habitat and consider new data and improved technology.
Koala Advisory Council chair, Mark Townend said, “this Strategy is the culmination of significant work by the Koala Advisory Council over many months to deliver an approach that balances the need to improve koala protection in south east Queensland with jobs and development.”
LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam welcomed the release of the strategy and the new mapping.
“The LGAQ thanks the Palaszczuk Government for working in partnership with councils to ensure critical koala habitat is protected into the future,” Mr Hallam said.
“We all have a part to play in protecting Queensland’s koala population.
“Councils look forward to continuing to work with the State as we progress this work.”
Moreton Bay Regional Mayor Peter Flannery said he was impressed with how responsive Minister Enoch and the Department of Environment had been to local concerns.
“Unlike most regions of Australia where koala populations are in decline, Moreton Bay has the unique challenge of needing more protected habitat to accommodate our growing koala population,” he said.
“So, the State Government’s inclusion of an additional 4,210 hectares of protected land in their revised koala mapping is very welcome news.
“I thank the Palaszczuk Government for showing real understanding about how important this is locally and taking real action.
“Council will now expand on the state government’s protections, by purchasing privately owned parcels of natural habitat through the new Land Buyback Program we launched in June.
Member for Pine Rivers Nikki Boyd said the Strategy was developed in collaboration with key stakeholders, including 12 local councils, conservation groups, the building and development industries, non-government organisations, and the community.
“During the consultation period almost 5000 Queenslanders strongly favoured increased protection measures and a proactive approach to ensuring sustainable koala populations in the wild,” Ms Boyd said.
Minister Enoch thanked the Koala Advisory Council and all stakeholders for contributing to the Strategy’s development.
“When we released the draft Strategy for consultation in December 2019, we received almost 5,000 submissions and it was great to see that Queenslanders are so committed to koala protection,” she said.
Minister Enoch also announced today that $1.4 million is available in grant funding for koala applied research, through the Community Sustainability Action grants.
“We are looking for projects focused on koala applied research in south east Queensland that contribute to sustaining koala populations in the wild,” Ms Enoch said.
Grants of up to $100,000 will be awarded to recipients undertaking practical and applied research projects into koala habitat protection and restoration, threat mitigation and community partnerships to support the long-term conservation of koalas in south east Queensland. Link is: https://environment.des.qld.gov.au/wildlife/animals/living-with/koalas/conservation/seq-koala-strategy/_nocache