The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia has welcomed the release of a national recovery plan
to stop the decline of endangered koala populations in NSW, Queensland and the ACT.
Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley released the plan today. It includes strategies to support koala protection and population recovery, and actions to restore koala habitat.
“We’re pleased to see the government taking the decline of koalas seriously and committing to a recovery plan and national recovery team to monitor its implementation,” said WWF-Australia conservation scientist Dr Stuart Blanch.
“The plan contains goals to stabilise and increase koala numbers and the area of koala habitat on the east coast by 2032. This is the right sentiment, but we’d like to see greater ambition and a goal of doubling koala numbers by 2050.”
The national recovery plan is supported by $74 million in (already announced) funding for genomic research, disease prevention, a national koala census and extensive habitat restoration.
Dr Blanch said this funding was important, but more would be needed to save east coast koalas from extinction.
“There’s no new money attached to this recovery plan. This is business as usual and not funding at the scale we need to save koalas,” he said.
Dr Blanch said the plan also lacked adequate commitments to address the two biggest drivers of koala declines - deforestation and climate change.
“It’s great that we finally have a recovery plan. But without strong laws to protect koala habitat and a koala safe climate target consistent with the Paris agreement, koala homes will continue to be bulldozed, logged and burned,” he said.
“With the right actions we can give koalas the chance to thrive, not just survive.”
Koalas were listed as an endangered species on Australia’s east coast in February. The decision came following a joint nomination by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Humane Society International (HSI) and WWF-Australia, which included evidence showing Queensland’s koala population has crashed by an estimated 50% since 2001, and up to 62% of the NSW koala population has been lost over the same period.
WWF-Australia’s Regenerate Australia program Koalas Forever
aims to double koala numbers on the east coast by 2050.