The Queensland government has released its five-year conservation strategy for the threatened koala.
The state governent says last summer’s bushfires affected 44,141 hectares of core koala habitat and 13,989 hectares of locally refined koala habitat areas in Queensland.
In Queensland, the greatest concentration of koalas is in the southeast of the state and koalas face a range of environmental stresses including habitat loss, impacts from high intensity bushfires and climate change, disease, dog attacks and car strikes.
The conservation strategy sets out some koala conservation timelines.
- It will establish a set policy for koala translocation – i.e. moving them from development threats – by 2021.
- It will develop a policy with councils to control the impact of dogs on koalas in suburbs near koala habitat, also by 2021.
- Southeast Queensland’s network of wildlife hospitals will identify threat hotspots to be worked into dog and road impacts by 2022.
- Councils will work on public relations campaigns to alert drivers to koalas on 10 south-east Queensland roads during breeding season to reduce the shocking incidence of koalas being killed by cars.
The SMH reports, theoretically, the Queensland government's new strategy restricts the clearing of koala habitat.
"It prohibits the clearing of koala habitat areas within a koala priority area. It also regulates development in koala habitat areas outside a koala priority area, unless the activity is allowed under a strict set of exemptions that ensure safety and appropriate land management," it says.
However, as this case study in koala habitat at Springfield last week shows, more than 66 hectares of koala habitat in this project alone were exempt from the plan.
Queensland’s Conservation Council said the clearing of that habitat by Springfield developers, without public comment, highlighted loopholes in the new protections.
"It is a classic example of where, for one reason or another, we are going to lose yet another large parcel of land of koala habitat," QCC chief executive Louise Matthiesson told the SMH.
"It is death by a thousand cuts – that is what these exemptions allow," she said.