Friends of the Koala is calling on federal environment minister Tony Burke to do the right thing and recognise that koala survival is a matter of national environmental significance.
Minister Burke is to hand down his decision on whether the koala will be listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 next Monday, 30 April 2012.
‘State protection has not achieved koala recovery,’ said Friends of the Koala president, Lorraine Vass. ‘Habitat clearing and degradation, disease, cars and dogs continue to decimate our Northern Rivers koala populations.
‘Listing the koala as a nationally threatened species will provide additional protection. Any development assessed to significantly impact on koala habitat will require the approval of the Federal Minister. It will also open up new avenues for funding to support koala conservation,’ Mrs Vass said.
‘Coastal koala populations in the Northern Rivers are in a particularly precarious state. Scientific work carried out in 2010 on the Tweed Coast confirmed that koala numbers there fall far short of the minimum viable population size of 170 individuals.
‘A nomination for listing the Tweed-Brunswick coast koala population as an Endangered Population under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, prepared on behalf of the Tweed Coast Koala Advisory Group, will be lodged very shortly.
‘Friends of the Koala admits over 300 koalas annually. Around the same number of sightings are reported. Mortalities run between 70 per cent and 75 per cent. Disease is by far the biggest killer at around 60 per cent, followed by road strikes and dog attack.
‘Experts are predicting that free-ranging populations could have as little as 50 years left in south-eastern Queensland. The way things are going, the Northern Rivers may not be far behind. Federal acknowledgement of the true facts, expressed by national listing, will begin to turn this situation around. Our members and all koala conservationists urge the Minister to give koalas a bit back on what they earn for the country by declaring them threatened.’