More than 40,000 hectares of koala habitat cleared after Qld landclearing controls weakened | wwf

More than 40,000 hectares of koala habitat cleared after Qld landclearing controls weakened

Posted on 17 February 2016
Sleeping koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) on eucalyptus tree.
Sleeping koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) on eucalyptus tree.
© Shutterstock / martinho Smart / WWF
A new analysis by WWF-Australia reveals that koalas, recently listed as vulnerable to extinction, lost 40,312 hectares of habitat in just two years following the weakening of landclearing controls by the previous Queensland Government in 2012.

WWF-Australia scientist Dr Martin Taylor, who produced an interactive map showing the loss of koala habitat, said: “It’s a cruel blow to a species fighting for survival.
 

TITLE:
Koala habitat cleared in Queensland 2012-14
 

DESCRIPTION:
Large pins show 5 ha or more of known koala habitat cleared. Small dots show 5 ha or more of known or likely habitat cleared. WWF overlapped Queensland Government maps of landclearing from 2012-2014 (SLATS) with Australian Government habitat maps for koalas, to identify properties where more than 5 ha of koala habitat was lost.
The map is also available here.


“The area is the equivalent of nearly 1 million house blocks1 – gone in just two years. That’s more than 1300 house blocks per day of koala habitat being bulldozed.

”The millions of people around the world who adore koalas will be alarmed at that rate of destruction,” he said.
The Federal Environment Department’s vulnerable listing for koalas estimates that between 1990 and 2010 their numbers declined by 42% across Queensland and NSW, but on the Koala Coast south-east of Brisbane a Queensland Government survey has shown a much worse 68% decline.

“Landclearing is squeezing koalas into fragmented patches of habitat where they will continue to rapidly decline because their home range is too small or broken up,” Dr Taylor said.

It wasn’t just koalas affected. In all, 200 threatened animals and plants lost 211,820 hectares of habitat following the reduction in tree-clearing controls. Dr Taylor produced an interactive map to show this habitat loss.
 

TITLE:
Threatened species habitat cleared in Queensland 2012-14
 

DESCRIPTION:
Large pins show 100 ha or more forest cleared. Small dots show 10-99 ha cleared. WWF overlapped Queensland Government maps of landclearing from 2012-2014 (SLATS) with Australian Government habitat maps for threatened species, to identify properties where more than 5 ha of threatened species habitat was lost.
The map is also available here.


Species impacted include the Northern Quoll, Greater Bilby, Mahogany Glider, Northern Bettong, the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby, and the Red Goshawk.

“Habitat loss is the number one cause of species decline. If we are to give our threatened wildlife a fighting chance we must strengthen landclearing controls as soon as possible,” he said.  

WWF-Australia Media Contact:
Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571

Method
Dr Taylor’s analysis used official Queensland Government landclearing maps from 2012-13 and 2013-14 and only included land cleared for the first time or the first time in 20 years as this is the most significant habitat for wildlife.
Dr Taylor then overlapped maps of the cleared high-value bushland with Australian Government maps of threatened species habitat.
Alarmingly, 211,820 hectares of the cleared bushland was habitat where 200 threatened species (139 plants and 61 animals) are known to occur or are likely to occur according to maps on the Federal Government’s Species of National Environmental Significance database.

1. Based on a 2014 Urban Development Institute of Australia report that the average size of new residential lots is now 423m²

Link to interactive map of threatened species habitat cleared in Qld 2012 to 2014 here, small icon means 10-99 hectares of “known” or “likely” habitat cleared, and large icon means more than 100 hectares of “known” or “likely” habitat cleared.

Link to koala habitat clearing map here, small icon means up to 5 hectares of “known” or “likely” habitat cleared, big icon means more than 5 hectares of “known” habitat cleared.

List of species impacted here.
Sleeping koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) on eucalyptus tree.
Sleeping koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) on eucalyptus tree.
© Shutterstock / martinho Smart / WWF Enlarge