The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia today welcomed the recommendation to uplist koalas in eastern Australia from vulnerable to endangered, but said this could have been avoided.
The Threatened Species Scientific Committee, which advises the federal government, has made a tentative assessment
(on page 51) that “the Committee considers that the Koala is eligible for listing as Endangered” in eastern Australia because of population declines.
There will now be a public inquiry to confirm that assessment. It follows WWF-Australia, IFAW and HSI nominating the koala to be listed as endangered
“Had Australia put in place an independent compliance agency in 2012 when the koala in eastern Australia was first listed as vulnerable, we could have avoided this day. But we didn’t, we kept on with business as usual,” said Stuart Blanch, WWF-Australia Senior Manager, Towards Two Billion Trees.
In fact last year WWF-Australia revealed that destruction of koala habitat actually increased
after the iconic marsupial was listed as “vulnerable” in Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT.
“There was little to no consequence for those who didn’t follow our nature laws.
“If we don’t instate an independent environmental compliance agency, then we’ll keep marching our koalas to the extinction line across eastern Australia.
“This sad milestone could be a turning point for the Regeneration of Australia, but it requires reform and a commitment to a nature positive way forward.
“The decline of our Australian icon also shines the spotlight on why Australia needs to rise to meet the global ask of securing 30% of Australia’s landscape under protection.
“While the government recently celebrated meeting ocean protection targets, it is failing to meet the 30% land protection targets being called for globally.
“Australia also needs to commit to a target at the climate COP that is koala safe, because climate change is causing extreme drought and bushfire conditions – major extinction threats to koalas alongside clearing.
“WWF is confident that Australia can not only turn around the sad decline of Australia’s icon, but actually double the number of Koala’s across Eastern Australia by 2050.
“The recovery of our koala is still within our sights. It will take reform and cross-sectoral partnerships at a scale being called for through our Koala’s Forever
program. We look forward to working across all sectors especially government,” he said.