Donna Pointing, Koala Action Group
Will bureaucratic buck-passing be the catalyst for the demise of the Redland koala? Unfortunately it seems likely that Minister Burke’s decision in February 2012 will ensure the campaign for koala conservation takes 2 steps back, handing the fate of the koala back into the hands of Peter Garrett….
REDLAND’S Koala Action Group is dismayed by a federal government decision this week to delay listing the koala as a threatened species.Last Tuesday, while the country was watching the Melbourne Cup, Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said he was going to delay a decision on whether to add the koala to the list of nationally threatened species.
Mr Burke said the delay followed new data on koala populations and recommendations from a senate inquiry.
A decision on whether to list the koala was due at the end of October but Mr Burke will now decide by February 17 next year.
Mr Burke said the delay would allow him “sufficient time” to consider the new data and get more advice from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee.
In September 2010, the scientific committee advised the minister not to list the koala, due to insufficient data.
However, since then, the scientific committee has found evidence of more significant koala population declines than previously identified.
It also found there were more severe threats to the national koala population, particularly in Queensland and New South Wales.
President of the Redland-based Koala Action Group Debbie Pointing said there was no reason for the minister to delay listing the koala.
Ms Pointing said there was plenty of evidence to prove the animal was under threat, especially along the Koala Coast, which includes Redland.
Ms Pointing predicted the minister would eventually list the koala as “conservation dependent” under the The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
“That sounds great but really means nothing and puts us back where we started with Minister Peter Garrett nearly two years ago,” Ms Pointing said, reiterating statements from the Australia Koala Foundation.
“It is really bad news for the Redland koala and we have worked tirelessly for many years to gather data on the populations in this area.
“That data should be enough for the Minister to make a decision,” Ms Pointing said.