Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts logo
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts home page

Archived media releases and speeches

Disclaimer

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

14 July 2006

Australia's Koala population not threatened


A recent scientific assessment has revealed that Australia’s koala population is not at risk of extinction, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, announced today.

Advice from the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee has confirmed that koalas number in the hundreds of thousands and are not threatened on a national scale.

Senator Campbell has accepted the Committee’s advice that the koala does not need to be listed as threatened under federal environment legislation.

“This is reassuring news for Australia’s koala population and good news for those many Australians who have a deep fondness for this native Australian icon,” Senator Campbell said.

“This is the third time that an Australian Government scientific committee has considered scientific evidence for the koala, and the third time that the evidence has shown it is not nationally threatened.

“The news is also supported by the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species, which, at its recent update, continues to include the koala in its lower risk category,” he said.

The koala was nominated for listing under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and was thoroughly assessed by an independent panel of experts based on the best scientific information available. The nomination was also subject to a two-month public comment period.

“Given a recent scientific report regarding the status of a retrovirus associated with the koala, however, I have asked the Threatened Species Scientific Committee to review the conservation status of the koala in two years time,” Senator Campbell said.

“While the Committee’s advice to me that the koala is not at threat nationally is reassuring, it did find that some local koala populations, subject to severe localised threats, have undergone large declines in numbers in recent years.

“It is important that these local koala habitats are the focus of protection, restoration and rehabilitation work.

“These local populations are recognised under state environment legislation and are therefore largely managed by the relevant state governments.

“Given the importance that the Australian Government places on the koala as a key aspect of our biodiversity and cultural heritage however, I am announcing today a range of new initiatives to support work to protect the koala at the local and state level.

Senator Campbell said the Australian Government would provide funding of $100,000 to regional groups to help create ‘Koala Corridors’ through protection and restoration of koala habitat in adjacent regions in the south east of Queensland and the north of New South Wales.

He said this funding assistance comes on top of more than $450,000 that the Australian Government has provided over the past four years to help community groups and individuals conserve and restore koala habitat.

The Australian Government also announced funding of $2.5 million in the Budget for the expansion of the Australian Wildlife Hospital, of which Australia’s koala population will be a major beneficiary, particularly in Australia’s fastest growing region in south-east Queensland.

Senator Campbell has also foreshadowed to his state and territory colleagues that the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council could help to review and update the National Koala Conservation Strategy, first published in 1998.

“Reviewing the National Koala Conservation Strategy would provide an opportunity to update and enhance nationally consistent objectives for the protection of local koala populations that are under threat,” Senator Campbell said.

“I have also written to my state and territory counterparts about building on the work that some jurisdictions and the Australian Koala Foundation are doing to minimise the threats facing Koala populations at the interface between bush and urban areas.

“The establishment of a ‘koala friendly’ standard for developers could provide valuable assistance to developers, planners and community groups in managing the potential risks to koala habitat while meeting the needs of our growing society.”

Further information is available online at: www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/nominations/unsuccessful-fauna.html

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

Commonwealth of Australia