“Koala populations are under serious threat from habitat loss and urban expansion, as well as vehicle strikes, dog attacks, and disease,” Australia’s Environment Minister Tony Burke is quoted as saying in a recent news release on the matter.
Koala (often called koala bears even though they are not bears) in the Queensland, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory will now be listed as ‘Vulnerable’ under a new environmental law.
“Koalas are an iconic Australian animal and they hold a special place in the community,” Mr Burke said.
“People have made it very clear to me that they want to make sure the koala is protected for future generations.
“My decision to list the koala under national environment law follows a rigorous scientific assessment by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee which gathered information from a variety of experts over the past three years.
“However, koala numbers vary significantly across the country, so while koala populations are clearly declining in some areas, there are large, stable or even increasing populations in other areas…. But the Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory koala populations are very clearly in trouble, so we must take action.
“That is why the scientific committee recommended to me to list the Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory populations as threatened, rather than to list the koala as nationally threatened across its full range.”
The Australian government has committed $300,000 of new funding to find out more on what needs to be done to protect the koala bears.
“This funding will be used to develop new survey methods that will improve our knowledge of the quality of koala habitat using remote sensing, and help fill important data gaps to enhance our understanding and ability to protect the species,” Mr Burke said.