2.8.18 Nearly half of Coomera koalas die after Gold Coast relocation

Extracts from a news article on abc.net.au By Tom Forbes and Chris O’Brien.
The Queensland Government is reviewing its koala “translocation” policy after more than 40 per cent of animals removed from the booming northern Gold Coast suburb of Coomera died within five years.

The koalas were moved about 40 kilometres from their habitat and into the Gold Coast Hinterland.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said in a statement that they fared better than the population that remained in Coomera.

“The 180 koalas that were translocated from the East Coomera site between 2009-2014 had a better survival rate compared to those that remained at the site,” she said.

“Over the five years, koala losses due to disease, predation or road trauma totalled 50 per cent for the resident group that remained at East Coomera, compared to only 42 per cent for the relocation group.”

Red Full article on abc.net.au

6.7.18 NSW State Government announced a $45 million intervention package to protect koala numbers in May (2018)

Extracts from an interview with Cheyne Flanagan, Clinical Director at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital … “ Whilst the initiative from the State Government is admirable, there are many areas within this document that can only be described as very disappointing… the number one cause for the decline of the koalas, here and  across Australia, is the removal of habitat… Our long term goal [Koala Hospital] is to ensure the survival of the hinterland populations of wild koalas, as the development pressures on the coastal koalas is too great… if we keep going at the rate we are going – the coastal koalas of this region will only be a memory… Incidentally, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council estimates that the Koala Hospital and the koalas of the region bring around $60 million dollars annually to the local economy… Read the full interview in Focus Magazine, Port Macquarie July 2018 issue 

4.7.18 Australian scientists sequence complete koala genome in a world first

A team of Australian scientists has sequenced the complete koala genome in a world-first. The data will provide information to better inform conservation, tackle diseases and help ensure the koala’s long-term survival.

“…there are more than 300,000 koalas living in Australia today – a very small number when compared to the millions that once existed…”   Natasha Kallios,  SBS reporter. see full story and video from sbs

4.7.18 Koala genome project reveals secrets about its toxic diet and disease

•An Australian-led team of scientists has sequenced the complete koala genome
•The genetic blueprint contains more than 26,000 genes, including a number of novel genes related to their diet and immune system

•This is important for conservation and the development of treatments for devastating diseases such as chlamydia and koala retrovirus

“We found relatively high levels of genetic diversity in the Queensland and New South Wales population and much less diversity in Victorian and South Australian population,” Professor Johnson said. But, she said, Queensland populations were expected to drop by up to 50 per cent and New South Wales populations by 30 per cent within 20 years. read the full article at the abc

3.7.18 Land clearing to be challenged in the first koala court

Land clearing can have a devastating impact on koala populations. New laws would allow landowners to clear sections of native bushland on their property without prior environmental assessment. Koalas (or their representatives, at least) are now taking the NSW Government to court against new land clearing laws that are devastating native habitats across the state…

“Land clearing is the main threat to many of these animals, and the land-clearing codes this government has introduced, potentially unlawfully, are pushing them closer to the brink,” Ms Smolski said. The new legal challenge is set down to be heard by the Land and Environment Court in July.  The new laws would allow landowners to clear sections of native bushland on their property without prior environmental assessment.

The Nature Conversation Council won its first court case on the issue in March and has started fresh legal action through the Environmental Defenders Office to scrap new land clearing codes.  While the government argues the new laws give landowners the “tools and certainty they need”, NCC chief executive Kate Smolksi says the new codes would expose 99 per cent of identified koala habitat on private land to the bulldozers. read the full article by Tracy Sorensen, Western Advocate

 19.6.18 Proposed NSW logging laws value timber over environmental protection

New South Wales is revamping its logging laws for the first time in two decades, drafting regulations that will govern more than two million hectares of public native forest… …NSW will effectively be asking the federal government to agree to changes that directly contradict the federal Threatened Species Strategy and several species recovery plans, and reduce the extent of the reserve system…. Koalas prefer large trees and mature forests, yet the intensive logging zone will cover almost half of identified high quality koala habitat. Legally, loggers will only have to keep 10 trees of 20cm diameter per hectare – far too few and too small for koalas…read the full article and related topics at THE CONVERSATION Author: Oisin Sweeney  Senior Ecologist at the National Parks Association of NSW, Research Fellow, University of Sydney

4.6.18 No Electricity From Forests to protest 2018 Koala Conference in Port Macquarie

“No amount of government sponsorship and funding of koala festivals organised by slick public relations firms expressing concern about the future conservation and protection of koalas can cover the fact that the government through pursuing its current policies will soon remove huge swathes of forests currently home to large numbers of koalas and other tree dependent animals and plants.” Frank Dennis (The No Electricity From Forests (NEFF)) …Mr Dennis said those who are interested in koala conservation must accept that habitat destruction and fragmentation is the greatest threat to their continued survival. Read the full article published in the Port News 

12.5.18 ‘NSW Koala Strategy’ kisses conservation goodbye

IN WHAT SURELY must be one of the most outrageous attempts to fool the public into believing the NSW Government cares about koalas, the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has released the long-awaited NSW Koala Strategy…. Of major concern is the Strategy’s proposal to relocate koalas to unoccupied koala habitat. This suggestion ignores the published, peer-reviewed research by koala experts which documents the fact that koalas in NSW and Queensland cannot be translocated; marsupials are faithful to their home ranges and have very specific dietary requirements in terms of eucalypt species… Given that public comments to the Save our Species Iconic Koala Project were also supposed to be published but never saw the light of day, the failure of the Government to provide transparency is part and parcel of the Berejiklian Government’s policies of deception. In response to the Iconic Koala Project, the public was provided with a summary of what the Office of Environment & Heritage judged to be relevant. In fact, the “summary” was biased and important submissions were ignored…With the release of the Koala Plans by the NSW and Queensland Governments, the Federal Government is almost certain to release the National Koala Recovery Plan — now six years overdue… any plan issued byMinister for Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg is a certainty to echo the totally unacceptable outcomes of both State’s Koala Plans….Read the full article from Independent Australia by Sue Arnold . You can follow  Sue Arnold on Twitter @koalacrisis and Koala Crisis on Facebook

13.4.18  Koala extinction threat from land clearing

Koalas are an endangered species in Queensland, NSW and the ACT and land clearing has long been recognised as the culprit. As well as the animals killed during the actual process of land clearing, the destruction of habitat results in increasing population losses… Large scale bulldozing in Queensland triggered by the former Campbell Newman government’s relaxed tree clearing laws has resulted in an estimated 5000 koala deaths… In recent years, koala numbers on the east coast have declined by
•53% in Queensland;

•26% in New South Wales;

•80% in south-western Queensland;

•80% in south-eastern Queensland;

•80% in the Pilliga Forest in north-western NSW.

“The facts are quite clear, koalas occur broadly throughout the state and if you bulldoze koala habitat you’re pushing them closer towards extinction.” Martin Taylor, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Australia principal conservation scientist. Read the full article by Margaret Gleeson at Green Left Weekly