Pledge to help protect koalas

Published 5:00pm 18 September 2023

Pledge to help protect koalas
Words by Nick Crockford

Millions of dollars are being given to help protect koalas in the City of Moreton Bay and South-East Queensland – but conservation groups question if it will tackle the biggest threat.

The State Government is giving $4.2 million over three years to Healthy Land and Water (HLW), an environmental organisation covering SEQ.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles, State Member for Murrumba, says it isour responsibility” to “safeguard the future for koalas and the unique ecosystems they inhabit”.

HLW CEO Julie McLellan said the funding will be used to continue “ongoing critical efforts to support koala conservation”.

“From directly restoring habitat through enabling land managers and the community with the capacity to contribute to koala conservation.”

Vanda Grabowski, President/Secretary of Koala Action Inc, said there are “lots of positives” in the funding, but “habitat loss and fragmentation” were the key challenges.

Pledge to help protect koalas

She was supported by the Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) which said “koalas face an existential threat from urban sprawl and urban development” in SEQ.

Rather than restoring land for koalas, many believe the answer is to retain land for the endangered species.

Habitat loss “forces koalas to the ground in search of food, shelter and dispersal opportunities,” Ms Grabowski said.

“They have to negotiate busy roads to access koala food trees and cross backyards with unrestrained dogs roaming around.”

She said Koala Action Inc “would hope replanting koala food trees and other natives is the first thing Healthy Land and Water invest the funds into.

“Most trees need to be in the ground at least five years before they can be used by an adult koala.

“In drought and heat waves the whole growing process takes much longer. Planting now means credit in the future.”

Pledge to help protect koalas
The koala toll graphically illustrated beside Gympie Rd.

Ms. Grabowski said Koala Action Inc “fully supports” funding for Chlamydia vaccine research or koala tracking.

QCC Director Dave Copeman said at last week's launch of its Holding the Line report: “For SEQ’s animals and plants to survive and thrive, at least 40 percent of the region needs to be covered by native bushland and natural eco-systems.”

SEQ currently has 35 percent bushland cover, he said, but the ShapingSEQ regional plan “earmarks” a further six percent for new housing taking SEQ below the “globally-recognised minimum of 30 percent bushland cover”.

“With only 31 percent of SEQ offering suitable koala habitat, we can’t afford to lose a single hectare if we want to save the species,” Mr. Copeman said.

Environment Minister Keanne Kinard said its South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy would help.

"Vast tracts of essential koala habitat are being conserved and restored," she said, "those areas will be carefully managed to ensure they continue to provide food, shelter, and safety for koalas and other wildlife.”

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