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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    JOINT STATEMENT
    Premier
    The Honourable Anna Bligh
    Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation
    The Honourable Andrew McNamara

    BLIGH GOVERNMENT TO ACT ON KOALA CRISIS

    JOINT STATEMENT

    Premier
    The Honourable Anna Bligh

    Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation
    The Honourable Andrew McNamara

    Tuesday, August 05, 2008

    BLIGH GOVERNMENT TO ACT ON KOALA CRISIS

    Tighter planning controls and dog laws, stronger protection of key habitats and an expanded network of road crossings are among options to be considered as the Bligh Government confronts a crisis facing koalas in southeast Queensland.

    Premier Anna Bligh said new research showed the population of koalas in the wild was directly linked to the animals’ movement through urban areas and urgent action was needed to slow the dramatic mortality rate.

    This information has come to light since the introduction in 2006 of the Government’s Koala Plan and means more radical moves are needed to stop the extinction of koalas in SEQ.

    “We have been working to address this problem through initiatives such as facilitating greater involvement of the EPA in development approvals, road crossings and education and awareness campaigns with Councils,” Ms Bligh.

    “We already have some of the tightest koala planning controls in the country however this research makes it clear even more needs to be done.

    “It would be a tragedy if future generations were not able to see this much loved animal in the wild.

    “I have fond memories from my own childhood of seeing koalas in their natural habitats and I will do everything I can do to make sure future generations of children are not denied this opportunity.

    “It cant’ be put into the too hard basket. We need to act and we need to act now.

    “This new research indicates the koala population in southeast Queensland is approaching the point of no return - we face total loss of koalas within 20 years if koalas’ movement patterns are not addressed.”

    Ms Bligh said a top-level taskforce comprising scientific experts, conservation groups, developers, State Government and local councils will be formed to recommend action.

    She said the RSPCA will also be invited to represent pet owners.

    “I will be asking this group to think outside the square and look at a further range of options to protect this much loved iconic animal,” Ms Bligh said.

    “I will ask them to look at measures such as:

    • Protecting key koala habitat from further development
    • Road funding to provide more koala crossings and signage to warn drivers to slow down.
    • Banning dogs in new developments that are seen as vital movement paths for koalas
    • Mandating that only koala-friendly fences, with gaps to allow ease of movement through yards, can be installed around new houses.
    • Ban on clearing habitat trees in new development areas

    The Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation, Mr Andrew McNamara said despite more than 80% of all land in SEQ being protected from urban development and 120,000 hectares of SEQ being specifically covered by the Koala Plan - the koala population continued to decline.

    He said the joint mapping survey by consultants GHD for the Environmental Protection Agency and Moreton Bay Regional Council showed a freefall in the Pine Rivers’ urban koala population density of 46% over the past six years. An EPA report released last year showed numbers had dropped 26% on the Koala Coast since 1999.

    “The new data reinforces that dog attacks, car strikes and loss of habitat were the three main killers of koalas, rather than disease, and these are the issues we need to look at,” Mr McNamara said.

    5 August , 2008
    Contact: Premier’s office 3224 4500