24 February 2010

The general public are being asked to get involved in saving the koala or face a future without Queensland’s faunal emblem.

Members of the recently formed Koala Research Network (KRN) are urging anyone who cares about the survival of the koala to make a submission to the Queensland Government on draft Koala habitat protection measures.

KRN spokesman, and founder of The University of Queensland’s Koala Study Program, Professor Frank Carrick, said the closing date for public submissions was February 28, so quick action was needed.

“All submissions would help, even if it is simply to record overall support for the proposed new Koala State Planning Policy and Koala State Planning Regulatory Provision,” Professor Carrick said.

He said the KRN was recently presented with clear evidence that key populations in the Southeast, traditionally the koala’s stronghold, are rapidly approaching local extinction.

He said KRN members agreed the Queensland Government’s commitment to a net increase in SEQ koala habitat by 2020 was vital if koalas are to be saved, but first the continuing unsustainable destruction and fragmentation of existing habitat must be stopped.

“Unless the catastrophic decline is halted, the nationally significant koala coast population could be beyond recovery by the end of 2010,” he said.

“The situation is also serious for koalas elsewhere in Queensland even though they are not subject to the intense urban development pressure of the State’s Southeast.

“Drought, widespread tree dieback and continuing land clearing are conspiring to cause decline.

“This disappearance of inland and northern koalas must also be addressed urgently, but for the coastal SEQ populations, their prospects are pretty bleak unless we can stabilise them within the next five years.”

Copies of and information about the new draft koala state planning instruments, including how to make a submission, are available from www.derm.qld.gov.au or the Department of Environment and Resource Management, Brisbane office, Level 3, 400 George Street, Brisbane.

Media: Professor Frank Carrick (0427 783 973).