SEQ Koala Conservation Strategy
A background brief
A quick guide to the recently announced SEQ Koala Conservation Strategy
The Queensland Government appointed a Koala Expert Panel in July 2016 to provide recommendations on how to reverse the relentless decline in koalas across South-east Queensland. The Government promised to act on the scientiﬁc advice provided by the Panel in a new Koala Conservation Strategy, supported by law changes to control urban tree clearing. The Panel’s report was handed to the government in September 2017.
The Panel recommended strong action to strengthen planning and development laws and improve our Environmental Offset laws, to prevent further destruction of koala habitat. Habitat destruction is the key cause of declining koala populations, exposing koalas to greater risk of dog attacks, disease and vehicle hits.
In order to be effective, the Queensland Government must introduce amendments to all laws regulating development in Queensland as soon as possible, in such a way that:
- Clearing is prohibited in core koala habitat, with only exemptions for essential activities such as ﬁre breaks;
- Exemptions are not allowed for state infrastructure, category X vegetation (even if under a priority map of assessable vegetation), Priority Development Areas or State Development Areas;
- Development and allowable clearing in koala habitat is subject to state government oversight rather than being left to ad hoc local government laws;
- State government development assessment laws must provide strong regulation of clearing and development in koala habitat, including a requirement that there be a net gain in koala habitat and requirements for effective koala crossings around infrastructure, as recommended by the Expert Panel;
- The ineffectual Environmental Offsets Act 2014 (Qld) is overhauled this term of government, to stop allowing inappropriate clearing of habitat with inadequate accountability and certainty that effective offsets will be provided, as recommended by the Expert Panel.
Additionally, given the dire situation facing our state’s faunal emblem,3 we ask that the Queensland Government urgently expand the strengthened regulations and mapping to provide state-wide protection for koala habitat.