Vulnerable koala populations need stronger federal protections, actual enforcement and proper monitoring of their habitat and population numbers.
History has shown that successive NSW and federal governments cannot be trusted to act to protect our native forests from logging. Koala numbers have dropped by 40 per cent in Queensland and by a third in NSW over the past 20 years, and they are declining in South Gippsland in Victoria. There are no wild koalas left in the ACT.
Logging in native forests that are home to local koala populations has placed the future of the koala at the mercy of state forestry agencies. In 2012 Forest NSW has been under fire for risking koala habitat in Pine Creek State Forest on the NSW Mid-North Coast and Tanja State Forest in NSW South-East forests. The future survival of the koala must not be undermined further for the sake of the dying woodchipping industry.
What the Greens are doing
Former Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown championed stronger federal protection of the koala and its native forest habitat. In 2010 he initiated a Senate inquiry into koala populations, which heard evidence that koalas were fast approaching a crisis point and that we must act urgently to protect the koala across the nation.
Following the Senate inquiry the federal government fell short of granting national protection to the koala, listing them as a vulnerable species only in NSW, Queensland and the ACT. Further, the federal government did not close existing loopholes to this recent 'vulnerable species' listing which means state forestry bodies can continue to log native forests that provide crucial koala habitat.
The Greens will be introducing a bill to better protect koalas and their habitat, and will be seeking to remove the loophole that exempts forestry activities from assessment under our national environment laws.
The Greens are campaigning to ensure the federal government does not water down the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and hand over powers to the states.
As the Greens forestry spokesperson, Senator Lee Rhiannon will continue to work for stronger protections for the koalas that call state native forests their home.
Koalas are too precious to lose.