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Senate report: hope for vulnerable NSW koalas

Recommendations of a Senate inquiry report into vulnerable koalas, tabled today and instigated by Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown, will help halt the dramatic decline in koala numbers in NSW if they are implemented, says Greens Senator for NSW and forests spokesperson Lee Rhiannon.

Bob Brown and Lee Rhiannon called for a national inquiry in August 2010, during the Federal election campaign. Koala populations are particularly vulnerable in areas of the central, mid- north and north coasts, parts of the north-west and south coasts.

"The report recognises that NSW and Queensland face a particularly rapid decline in koala numbers and has recommended that the Federal Environment Minister pay special attention to conserving koala populations in both states," Senator Rhiannon said.

"It is time NSW koala populations were listed as vulnerable under federal environment legislation, where populations have declined significantly, or are at risk of decline.

"While the NSW government has its own process of state listing this has not put a stop to the decline in numbers of this national icon.

"Moving quickly to establish a proper habitat and population monitoring process is essential to track what local conservation groups know anecdotally is a significant problem.

"Habitat loss and other human impacts are leaving NSW koala populations hanging by a thread.

"Threats to koalas from logging, mining and rapid urban development must be addressed and this report provides the government with the authority to proceed.

"Getting in early rather than seeing koalas go the way of other extinct species of Australian mammals is a responsibility which this government should take very seriously," Senator Rhiannon said.

The recommendations include:

  • that the Threatened Species Scientific Committee review its advice to the Environment Minister on the listing of the koala in light of the inquiry findings;
  • more assistance for research into diversity of koalas and diseases such as the koala retrovirus and chlamydia;
  • research and action on the impact of wild dogs on koalas;
  • changes to road rules, including speed limits, and overpasses or underpasses to better protect koalas; and
  • establishing a program for population monitoring of threatened species and other culturally, evolutionary and/or economically significant species.

Full report is here.

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