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Greater protection for koala habitat areas in South East Queensland (SEQ)

Greater protection for koala habitat areas in South East Queensland

Koala asleep, Queensland ©
Koala asleep, Queensland

A strong regulatory framework came into effect in February 2020 to protect koala habitat in South East Queensland (SEQ).

This was in line with recommendations brought down in 2017 by the Koala Expert Panel, appointed to evaluate options for the future direction of koala protection and management.

In 2015, the koala was listed under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992 as vulnerable to extinction across its full range in Queensland.

This new planning framework includes Koala Priority Areas—large, connected areas that contain koala habitat as well as areas that are suitable for habitat restoration.

Strict new clearing restrictions prohibit clearing of koala habitat areas within Koala Priority Areas (with some exemptions including a once-off 500m2 allowance per premises, as well as the removal of dangerous trees or the creation or maintenance of firebreaks adjacent to infrastructure).

For areas outside Koala Priority Areas, the State will now undertake the assessment of development involving the clearing of koala habitat areas to provide consistency across SEQ for approvals and conditions.

For proposed developments that don’t involve clearing of koala habitat but are within Koala Priority Areas, new assessment benchmarks support local governments to take koala conservation into account when considering project proposals.

More than 690,000 hectares of koala habitat areas, including 319,000 hectares of koala habitat areas in koala priority areas, have been mapped for SEQ using state of the art mapping and modelling techniques.

The koala habitat mapping is based on modelling of biophysical measures (such as altitude), suitable vegetation (for both food and shelter) and 2 decades of koala occurrence records, and is designed to focus the government’s conservation efforts on areas that have the greatest chance of supporting koala populations.

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