The Morrison Government is taking further steps to protect koalas, calling for public comment on both a national recovery plan, and whether its threatened species protection status in NSW, Queensland and the ACT should be raised from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘endangered’.
Following the devastating impacts of last year’s bushfires Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley asked the Threatened Species Scientific Committee’s (TSSC) to consider the koala’s threatened species status and worked with a broad range of experts to reconsider draft Recovery Plan documents in light of the bushfire impacts.
“The images of burnt, injured, dehydrated and frightened koalas suffering during the bushfires were haunting,” Minister Ley said.
“It has been critical that, as part of our $200 million wildlife and habitat bushfire response, we have had scientists assessing the best path forward for supporting the koala.
“That has included the need for threatened species experts to ensure any recovery plan for the koala considers the impact of the fires and the lessons learned for future action.
“The TSSC is an independent scientific body that is today formally inviting public submissions on whether koalas in NSW, Queensland and the ACT should have their threatened species status lifted from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘endangered’.
“At the same time, it is calling for submissions on the proposed recovery plan that outlines six key strategies, including the building and sharing knowledge of the species, community engagement and partnerships, the integration of koala conservation strategies into policy, and population management.
“We want to see Koala populations recover and we are investing $24 million in habitat restoration, disease and genome research, population mapping and veterinary support.
“This week I announced a further partnership with WWF as part of this work, that will see a range of habitat restoration projects in the NSW Northern Rivers and SE Queensland including drone seeding, weed removal, fire management, and on-groundwork with Traditional Owners.
Since 2014, the government has mobilised more than $560 million to for projects supporting outcomes for threatened species and ecological communities.
Submissions to the draft National Koala Recovery Plan open today at 10am and close on Friday, 24 September 2021. Submissions can be made here.
Submissions to the draft Koala Listing Assessment and Conservation Advice open today at 10am and close on Friday, 30 July 2021. Submissions can be made here.
Following the public consultation process for both the listing assessment and the recovery plan, the department and TSSC will consider all submissions and new evidence that may become available.
The TSSC will provide its final advice on the listing assessment to the Minister by 30 October 2021.