The Palaszczuk Government is moving forward with its plan to further protect Queensland’s koala populations, with the announcement of a new Koala Advisory Council.
At Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast today, Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said the group of leading experts would provide advice on the development and implementation of a new koala conservation strategy in Queensland.
“This Koala Advisory Council, led by RSPCA Queensland CEO Mark Townend, will coordinate and oversee the implementation of the recommendations from the Koala Expert Panel report, which was released earlier this year,” Ms Enoch said.
“The establishment of this dedicated koala council was one of six recommendations of the Koala Expert Panel.
“These experts have a wealth of experience in animal welfare, conservation and urban planning and one of their first tasks will be to work with the Queensland Government to finalise a new South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy.
“Since the release of the Expert Panel report earlier this year, the Palaszczuk Government has been working closely with stakeholders to develop a strategy that delivers a multifaceted approach that combines the protection of koala habitat through the planning framework, with action to address other threats.”
The Koala Advisory Council will hold its first meeting on 13 December.
In addition, a roundtable with key stakeholders will be held early next year.
Ms Enoch said today’s appointment of the Council was the next practical step to protecting koalas.
“Koalas are an iconic species and they need to be protected,” Ms Enoch said.
“The Palaszczuk Government is delivering on our commitment to address the decline in koala populations in South East Queensland.
“I am confident the new Advisory Council will help set a new direction for koala conservation in Queensland through science informed policies and management approaches.
“We know vegetation clearing and climate change are the main threats to Queensland’s threatened species, and the Palaszczuk Government’s new vegetation management laws have helped address this.
“Our new laws, introduced earlier this year, put an end to broadscale land clearing, and in addition, our Government’s $500 million flagship Land Restoration Fund will deliver clear environmental and economic co-benefits such as creating new habitat for threatened species like the koala.”
The role of the Koala Advisory Council includes:
- Helping deliver the new Koala Conservation Strategy and overseeing the implementation
- Evaluating the effectiveness of the Strategy and providing advice to government
- Reviewing government’s koala monitoring and evaluation program to ensure targets are met
- Ensuring transparency and public reporting on koala programs and changes to habitat
- Establishing stakeholder networks
- Ensuring the long term agenda for koala conservation is maintained
Mark Townend, Chief Executive Officer, RSPCA Queensland and Chair of the new Koala Advisory Council said: “The government has shown great foresight in bringing together a diverse group of expertise that will provide it with independent advice to develop policies and initiatives that will preserve and hopefully actually increase the population of this iconic Australian species.”
“The Council will work collaboratively and transparently with all stakeholders in order to achieve the best possible outcome for Queensland’s shrinking koala population.
“We are only too well aware of the challenges posed by increased urbanisation at the State continues to grow. I look forward to working closely with Minister Enoch and her department to achieve these goals.”
The Palaszczuk Government has also delivered on its commitment to provide $140,500 to Australia Zoo for animal rehabilitation and koala habitat restoration work.
“We have provided Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital with $100,000 to purchase 13 new enclosures for the bird and possum rehabilitation facilities, and a portable anesthesia machine,” Ms Enoch said.
“A further $40,500 will also be going to Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors, which manages the hospital, to improve koala habitat through land restoration.
“The project will involve the removal of Lantana from 260 hectares east of Blackbutt, and pest management to reduce feral animal attacks on koalas and other wildlife.”
Australia Zoo Director Wes Mannion welcomed the funding provided by the State Government.
“The funding for the bird and possum enclosure at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital will improve outcomes and recovery rates for injured and sick wildlife and also improve efficiencies and workloads for staff and volunteers.
“Lantana is inhibiting the movement of koalas between trees, which makes them vulnerable to feral animals, so the funding for this project will allow us to do some work removing the lantana. The removal will improve survival rates for koalas and increase biodiversity in the area.
“Given the declining numbers of koalas in Australia, in particular, south east Queensland, this project will help to ensure we have koalas for generations to come,” Mr Mannion said.
The Koala Expert Panel’s report and government response can be viewed here https://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/wildlife/koalas/review-conservation-measures.html