New State Policy to protect koalas

Koala habitats will be better protected under a new State Environmental Planning Policy that has been released by the NSW Government today.

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2019 includes an improved definition of koala habitat, mapping that identifies established and potential koala habitat and clear planning considerations for land holders and councils working with land identified as a koala habitat.

Deputy Secretary of Planning and Assessments Marcus Ray said the new SEPP will also help local councils enact their koala plans of management.

“This new policy will help deliver on the Government’s objective to stabilise and protect koala protections across the State, as outlined in the NSW Koala Strategy,” Mr Ray said.

“The new definition of core koala habitat will ensure areas with demonstrated koala presence will be recognised and protected.

“The number of tree species known to be used by koalas has also been increased from 10 to 123, recognising regional differences in koala preferences in nine distinct areas.

“We have also used data from the Koala Habitat Information Base to produce two new maps, one aimed at landowners and the other at councils, which make it clear where the SEPP applies and removes the burden on landowners to do their own expensive surveying of koala habitat.”

The new SEPP, which comes into effect in March 2020, provides guidance for councils preparing koala plans of management for identified habitat that covers all or part of their local government area, and enables draft plans submitted by Byron, Campbelltown, Snowy Monaro, Clarence Valley and Port Macquarie-Hastings to be considered for approval.

“The policy speeds up the process and broadens the scope of how councils will protect koalas, including planning controls around roads and other buffer zones,” Mr Ray said.

The existing policy, known as SEPP44 – Koala Habitat Protection, will be repealed in March 2020 giving councils time to prepare for the changes.

Landowners can determine whether their land has identified or potential koala habitat through a spatial viewer available on the NSW Government Planning Portal.

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