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    Environment
    The Honourable Vicky Darling

    New population survey shows koalas have a fighting chance

    Environment
    The Honourable Vicky Darling

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    New population survey shows koalas have a fighting chance

    Koalas in the Redlands’ famed Koala Coast have been given a fighting chance at survival after a new population survey shows no significant change in koala numbers since 2008.

     Environment Minister Vicky Darling today released the final report with population data indicating strong declines seen in previous surveys may have been halted.

    “I am confident that measures we put in place in 2006 – and have since strengthened – are contributing to this positive result,” Ms Darling said. 

    “While we can’t say for certain – and more work needs to be done to confirm population trends – it looks like we now have extra time for these measures to take effect. 

    “In 2006, we took landmark moves to link animal conservation with development planning and approvals – we put a stop to koala tree clearing in critical habitat areas and stopped developments that would increase traffic through critical habitat. 

    “We knew that unless we took ambitious steps South East Queensland’s koala population could become extinct – we took action to ensure that our vulnerable koalas not only survive but start to rebuild.

    “And while it’s still too early to declare the population is safe, I am encouraged that we now see that population decline appears to have steadied.

    “We expect further improvement as our $60 million koala response strategy reaches its milestones – including habitat protection, new property acquisition and strict planning controls.

    “Compared to reports in 2008 of a dramatically declining koala population by 50 percent, the latest survey shows the decline is estimated to be about 13 percent – yet error margins mean that we can’t say for certain that there was a decline at all.

    “Additional long-term protection measures the Bligh Government has put in place since 2008 will start to take effect in the next few years, and we will hopefully see an increasing population trend emerge. 

    “We know more work needs to be done – but encouragingly these results show we have more time for them to start to take effect. 

    Member for Capalaba Michael Choi said the survey results were encouraging for Redlands’ koalas and for the community who have rallied to protect this vulnerable population. 

    “These results are a positive start to conservation efforts kick-started in 2006 through the first Koala Conservation Plan,” Mr Choi said. 

    “It’s an encouraging result for many in the community who have been working hard to protect our koalas, and recognises the efforts of the Redland City Council and countless community groups who have played a part.

    “There is still much more to do in the Redlands, and I will be working hard to ensure the long term measures put in place have a chance to play a part in protecting koalas into the future.”

    Ms Darling said the Bligh Government had taken strong steps to safeguard this important koala population for future generations including:

    ·         new property purchases

    ·         land rehabilitation by planting more than 30,000 koala habitat trees in strategic locations

    ·         funding for private landholders to create koala nature refuges

    ·         planning controls protecting around 50,000ha of bushland koala habitat from new development

    ·         road retrofits to improve safety for koalas crossing roads

    ·         protecting 20 million hectares by 2020 across Queensland 

    ·         ongoing population surveys

    ·         disease research 

    “We are committed to keep surveying this population over the coming years to get a clearer picture as to whether or not the trend is turning around,” Ms Darling said. 

    “We always anticipated there would be a further decline before the population stabilised permanently – it takes time for new trees to grow – but this result is better than we expected. 

    “In the meantime we are not sitting on our hands – we are pushing ahead with measures aimed at turning around the long-term trend.

    “The Queensland Government now has in place some of the nation’s most comprehensive koala habitat protection measures through the Koala Conservation State Planning Regulatory Provision which protects around 50,000ha of bushland koala habitat from new development.

    “We have also set a high benchmark for councils to protect koala habitat through their planning schemes under the State Planning Policy for koala conservation

    Further information on the latest survey results can be found at www.derm.qld.gov.au

    Media contact:  3239 0824 | 0408 732 491