Posts Tagged ‘koala extinction’

Australian Koalas threatened by Australians

Friday, November 2nd, 2012
Once were common – now pose for the commoner!
Australia’s Koala
(Phascolarctos cinereus)

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Australia’s iconic and once prolific Koala is now nationally listed as vulnerable to extinction.

What a despicable indictment of Australians!

<<The Koala was formerly common throughout the broad band of forests and woodlands dominated by Eucalyptus spp. extending from north Queensland to the south-eastern corner of mainland South Australia, Australia (Maxwell et al. 1996).  However, the overall distribution of Koalas has been reduced since European settlement. This decline was primarily due to disease, bushfires, and widespread habitat destruction in the early decades of the 20th century.

Commercial poaching of koalas (they called it ‘harvesting‘) took place across the range towards the end of the 19th century and early 20th century (huge numbers, running into the millions, were killed for their pelts for a large export industry in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland).  Koalas were widely hunted during the 1920s and 1930s, and their populations plunged.>>

Backward Queensland was the worst offender.  In August 1927,  the Koala fur trade saw the Queensland Government declare ‘open season’ on Koalas.  Some 600, 000 koalas were shot to make gloves and hats in jut one month.  It became known as ‘Black August‘.

 
1927 ‘Black August’
When 600,000 Koalas were shot and skinned across Queensland

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Commercial hunting was banned in Victoria in the 1890s, yet it continued sporadically (and under regulation) in backward Queensland until 1927 (Hrdina and Gordon 2004).

<<The Koala currently ranges from northeastern, central, and southeastern Queensland with patchy populations in western areas, to eastern New South Wales including the coastal strip and highlands of the Great Dividing Range, the western plains and related riparian environments where suitable habitat occurs, Victoria, and southeastern South Australia.  The geographic range has contracted significantly due to loss of large areas of habitat since European settlement. In Queensland, extent of occurrence and area of occupancy have contracted by about 30% (Gordon et al. 2006).

Helped by reintroduction, Koalas have reappeared over much of their former range, but their populations are smaller and scattered. Koalas need a lot of space—about a hundred trees per animal—a pressing problem as Australia’s woodlands continue to shrink.>>

[Sources:  The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – Phascolarctos cinereus (Koala), ^http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/16892/0 ;  ‘Koala’, National Geographic, ^http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/koala/]

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Read:  >The Decline in the distribution of the Koala in Queensland 

(2.6MB, pdf – NB. if slow to open, GoTo:  File > Save As.., then open the PDF file from your auto-download folder)

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[Source: The Decline in the distribution of the Koala in Queensland, G. Gordon, F. Hrdina, R. Patterson, Zoologist Vol 33, 2004,^http://www.rzsnsw.org.au/]

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Koala Traditional Natural Range map   (excluding Victorian and South Australia)
[Source: ‘Koala (combined populations of Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory), Australian Government,
^http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=85104]

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<<Since European settlement, approximately 80% of Australia’s eucalypt forests have been decimated. Of the remaining 20% almost none is protected and most occurs on privately-owned land.>>

[Australian Koala Foundation, ^https://www.savethekoala.com/our-work/land-clearing-koalas]

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Koala reduced range map
Ed:  Interpretation is  Dark Green = known to occur,  Light and Mid Green = used to occur
Dark green is where human population growth is worst!
(Source: ‘Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) Listing’, Australian Government, 2012),
^http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/koala.html]

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Koalas partially listed as ‘Vulnerable’ to extinction

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In April 2012, Australia’s Environment Minister, Tony Burke, declared that ‘at-risk’ koala populations along Australia’s eastern seaboard ‘vulnerable‘ under Australian national environment law – specifically under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Australia’s Environment Minister, Tony Burke
Being interviewed on ABC Four Corners 20120821
[Source: ‘Koala Crunch Time’, ABC Four Corners, 20120821,^http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2012/08/16/3569231.htm]

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This ‘EPBC Act‘ remains the Australian Government’s central piece of  environmental legislation, providing a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places.  The Australian Government’s Department of Environment (etc) is currently developing EPBC Act referral guidelines for the Koala.

[Source:  Australian Government, ^http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/interim-koala-referral-advice.html]
 
Koala with joey – zoo captive to benefit tourist visitation
[Source:  Photo by Medford Taylor, National Geographic,
^http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/koala/]

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<<Rigorous scientific assessment by a variety of experts over the past three years has been reported back to Australia’s lead body on biodiversity conservation, the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), which has found that Koala populations particularly in Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory have declined markedly in recent years to a point where in these areas populations are vulnerable to regional extinction.

In 2011, the Threatened Species Scientific Committee combined available data for Koala populations across their natural range and generated estimates of the decline experienced over the period 1990–2010 by the national Koala population and, separately, the combined Queensland, NSW and ACT population (TSSC 2011bi).

The parameters of greatest uncertainty are the size of the Queensland population in 1990 and rate of subsequent decline, particularly in inland bioregions, and the size of the Victorian population.>>

The following table is a summary of the TSSC assessment of national Koala populations (TSSC 2012p):

Region Date Best estimate Decline
Queensland 1990 295 000
2010 167 000 43%
New South Wales 1990 31 400
2010 21 000 33%
Victoria 1990 215 000
2010 200 000 7%
South Australia 1990 32 000
2010 19 500 39%
 TSSC 2012 Assessment of National Koala Populations
 
[Source:  Koala (combined populations of Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory), Species Profile and Threats Database, Australia Government,  ^http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=85104]

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<<These are the same regions where rapid ongoing housing development is allowed and encouraged, as Australia’s human population expands uncontrollably.

Mr Burke said  “Koala populations are under serious threat from habitat loss and urban expansion, as well as vehicle strikes, dog attacks, and disease…In fact, in some areas in Victoria and South Australia, koalas are eating themselves out of suitable foraging habitat and their numbers need to be managed.”

“That is why the Scientific Committee recommended to me to list the Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory populations as threatened, rather than to list the koala as nationally threatened across its full range.”

Mr Burke said the Gillard Government had committed $300,000 of new funding under the National Environmental Research Program Emerging Priorities to find out more about koala habitat.

“This funding will be used to develop new survey methods that will improve our knowledge of the quality of koala habitat using remote sensing, and help fill important data gaps to enhance our understanding and ability to protect the species,” Mr Burke said.

“The new funding is in addition to more than $3 million we have invested since 2007 to ensure the resilience and sustainability of our koala population.”>>

[Source:  ‘Koala protected under national environment law’, The Hon Tony Burke MP media release,  Minister for Environment etc, 20120430, ^http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/burke/2012/mr20120430.html]
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Koalas reduced to patchy populations
Below the IUCN radar/crisis, Koala functional extinction looms
… patchy populations, and more patchy every year.
Do we wait until Koala numbers downgrade to ‘Critically Endangered‘ before the Australian Government gives a toss!
[Source: ^http://home.vicnet.net.au/~fofkk/]

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Australian Government – too little, too late, too selective

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<<But the Australian Government’s announcement (back in April 2012, now six months ago) only confirmed what the Lismore-based ‘Friends of the Koala‘ group has known for more than a decade.   Friends of the Koala volunteer carer Lola Whitney said the listing was long overdue.

“The work that we do here tells us that koalas are in danger of becoming extinct,” she said.  “So many koalas come through our care centre every year, that it’s amazing we’ve got any around here at all.  And the amount we lose from being hurt or from diseases – we lose a lot.”>>

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Ed:   But the Australian Government has only partially listed Koalas as vulnerable to extinction in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).  Whereas Victorian and South Australian koalas were omitted. 

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This was because these were the recommendations of the 2011 Senate Enquiry, despite the TSSC confirmed 39% decline in the South Australian Koala population between 1990 and 2010. 

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Tony Burke as ultimate custodian:   Why were problematic declining Koalas across South Australia and Victoria excluded from the EPBC Act?

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It was also because the lead authority, the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, had “information gaps”, and because “the body of data on the status of koala populations is patchy, often sparse and not nationally comprehensive or coordinated”, the TSSC ignored the ‘Precautionary Principle and repeatedly rejected the Koala’s threatened species listing on the EPBC Act.

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What it failed to appreciate was the more appropriate IUCN Red List categories of  ‘DATA DEFICIENT’ (DD) and ‘NOT EVALUATED’ (NE).

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The Conclusion by the 2011 Senate Committee Enquiry was selective. It read as follows:

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<<The most prominent issue raised during this inquiry was whether the koala should be listed as a threatened species. Although the committee does not have the technical expertise of the TSSC, and therefore believes it is not qualified to determine whether or not the koala should be listed as threatened, the committee is deeply concerned about the sustainability of Australia’s koala population.

On one hand, the committee is pleased that the koala may not yet be eligible for listing as threatened. The committee believes that to have such a significant Australian icon
included on the threatened species list would be a national shame.

On the other hand, the committee believes there are parts of the koala population that require much greater protection. This is occurring to some extent in Queensland and NSW where the koala is listed in some areas under state environment protection legislation. However, state listing has not stemmed the marked decline in the population. If declines continue it will only be a matter of time before the koala is nationally listed as a threatened species.

The EPBC threatened species listing process is reactive and not well suited to the conservation needs of the koala. In the committee’s view, there ought to be processes available to enable proactive protection for the koala as well as other significant Australian species. In this regard the committee notes the possible mechanisms announced as part of the government’s response to the review of the EPBC Act which could enable a more proactive approach to koala conservation. Perhaps, building on the TSSC’s proposal to monitor species of cultural, evolutionary and/or economic significance, there ought to be a category of nationally significant species.

Ultimately, the committee would like to see Australia’s koala population return to plentiful numbers of healthy individuals, in resilient habitats, across the koala’s natural range.>>

[Conclusion, p. xix]

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Threatened Species Scientific Committee repeatedly rejected Koala listing on EPBC Act

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Three separate Listing Advices by the ‘ by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) to successive Australian Environment Ministers rejected the listing of the Koala as a threatened species on the EPBC Act, as follows:.

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Feb 2006:

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Due to the TSSC acknowledging that “there are still information gaps regarding the species’ conservation status“, the TSSC recommendation to Australia’s Environment Minister on Koala conservation was:

“The Committee recommends that the species Phascolarctos cinereus (Koala) is not eligible for inclusion in the list referred to in section 178 (Listing of Threatened Species) of the EPBC Act.”

[Source:  ‘Advice to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) on Amendments to the list of Threatened Species
under the  EPBC Act’, 20060206, Item 6, p.15, Threatened Species Scientific Committee,^http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/koala.pdf, >Read 2006 Listing Advice]

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Sep 2010:

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<<The body of data on the status of koala populations is patchy, often sparse and not nationally comprehensive or coordinated. The data quality is also variable. There has been only limited improvement in quality, relevance and integration of these data over the 15 years that the koala has been considered by this Committee and its predecessor. This situation is not unusual for the Committee but what is unusual is the huge area of occurrence and variability that the koala demonstrates. I addition there is a lack of any consistent reliable methodology for population monitoring of the koala.>>

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<<In its deliberations, the Committee concluded that a Conservation Dependent listing for the koala could not be justified at this time.>>

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[Source:  Letter to Minster for Environment, by Associate Professor Robert J.S. Beeton, Chair, Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 20100930 ^http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/koala-tssc-letter.pdf,   >Read Sep 2010 Letter]

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Feb 2011:

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<<The Committee recommends that the list referred to in section 178 of the EPBC Act not be amended at this time by including the Phascolarctos cinereus (koala) in the list in the Vulnerable category.>>

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[Source:  ‘Advice to the Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) on Amendment to the list of Threatened Species under EPBC Act’, 20110211, Item 12, p.29, Threatened Species Scientific Committee,^http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/koala-listing-advice.pdf,   >Read Feb 2011 Listing Advice ]

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Nov 2011  (change of heart, but ignoring Victoria and South Australia):

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<<12. Recommendations

(i)    The Committee recommends that the Minister declare the combined koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) populations in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory to be a species for the purposes of the EPBC Act under s517 of the Act.

(ii)   The Committee recommends that the list referred to in section 178 of the EPBC Act not be amended by including the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) over its national extent.

(iii)   The Committee recommends that the list referred to in section 178 of the EPBC Act be amended by including in the list in the Vulnerable category the combined koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) populations in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

(iv)   The Committee recommends that there should be a recovery plan for this species.>>

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[Source:  ‘Advice to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) on Amendment to the list of Threatened Species under the EPBC Act, 20111125, Item 12, p.34, Threatened Species Scientific Committee,^http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/197-listing-advice.pdf,   >Read Nov 2011 Listing Advice ]

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The current members of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee are:

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  1. Professor Helene Marsh (Chair)
  2. Dr Guy Fitzhardinge
  3. Dr Gordon Guymer
  4. Professor Peter Harrison
  5. Dr Rosemary Purdie
  6. Dr Keith Walker
  7. Professor John Woinarski
  8. Dr Andrea Taylor
  9. Dr William Humphreys
  10. Dr Michelle Heupel

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[Source: ‘Threatened Species Scientific Committee Members, Department of Environment (etc, Australian Govermment, ^http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/committee-members.html]
Professor Helen Marsh
TSSC Chair since August 2011

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To his credit, Tony Burke had asked the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) for more precise boundaries detailing areas where koala populations are in trouble.

In February 2012, Australian Koala Foundation chief executive officer Deborah Tabart said that this Senate Committee Enquiry document was telling Mr Burke that he should act now and not wait another 10 weeks.

Deborah Tabart OAM
– not smiling

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<<“Minister Burke has delayed this decision, I think, twice and Minister (Peter) Garrett prior to that, I think, three times.  “I’m just hoping that the Senate inquiry document, which is now firmly on his (Mr Burke’s) desk, should persuade him that, if nothing else, he should protect the koala under a precautionary approach”, said Tabart.>>

[Source:  ‘Government ‘stalling’ on endangered koalas decision’, Feb 17, 2012, ^http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-17/koala-listing-process-delayed/3835228 ]

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Read:   2011 Senate Committee Enquiry:  >The koala—saving our national icon‘  (178 pages, PDF, 2.2MB)

[Source:  Australian Parliament House,  Senate Committees, >’The koala—saving our national icon’, 20110922, ^http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=ec_ctte/koalas/report/index.htm]

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<<The National Board of the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF), being much more aware of the Koala population range reality, undertook an extensive mapping project to quantify how many koalas remained in the wild, and where those koalas were located.

Extensive research was undertaken using National Vegetation Information System (NVIS) data, vegetation mapping, a bidling database of records for over 80,000 individually assessed trees from 2,000 field sites across the Koala’s range.   Data has been collected by AKF from sixteen of the twenty-four Australian bioregions that the Koala is known to occur.>>

In 2011, the following map has been prepared estimating Australia’ national Koala population:

Estimated Australian Koala Population, 2011
>Read Large Map(pdf) (3.4MB – – NB. if slow to open,
GoTo:  File > Save As.., then open the PDF file from your auto-download folder)
[Source:  ‘Bob’s Map’,  Australian Koala Foundation,
^https://www.savethekoala.com/our-work/koala-numbers]

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2011 Senate Committee:  ‘The koala—saving our national icon’

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The 19 Recommendations of the Senate Committee

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<<Recommendation 1

The Australian Government fund research into the genetic diversity of the koala including a population viability assessment of the southern koala and determining priority areas for conservation nationally.

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Recommendation 2

The Australian Government fund a properly designed, funded and implemented national koala monitoring and evaluation program across the full range of the koala.

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Recommendation 3

The Australian Government establish a nationally coordinated and integrated program for population monitoring of threatened species and other culturally, evolutionary and/or economically significant species.

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Recommendation 4

The Australian Government assist the koala research community and interested organisations to work towards a standardised set of methodologies for estimating koala populations.

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Recommendation 5

The Threatened Species Scientific Committee provide clearer information to the Environment Minister in all future threatened species listing advices, including species population information, and that the Threatened Species Scientific Committee review its advice to the Minister on the listing of the koala in light of the findings of this inquiry.

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Recommendation 6

The Australian Government undertake habitat mapping across the koala’s national range, including the identification of priority areas of koala conservation, with a view to listing important habitat under the provisions of the EPBC Act.

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Recommendation 7

The habitat maps be used to identify and protect important habitat in known koala ranges.

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Recommendation 8

The Australian Government review its land holdings which contain koala habitat and consider biodiversity, and specifically koala populations, in the management and sale of Commonwealth land.

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Recommendation 9

The Australian Government actively consider options for recognition and funding for private land holders for the conservation of koala habitat.

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Recommendation 10

The Australian Government fund research into koala disease, including the viability of vaccination programs and the effect of changes in leaf chemistry.

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Recommendation 11

The Australian Government fund the Koala Research Network’s request for a Research Liaison Officer.

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Recommendation 12

The Australia Government consider further wild dog control options in priority koala areas.

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Recommendation 13

Local and state governments:

  • Introduce appropriate speed limits in priority koala areas; and
  • Where appropriate, build or retrofit underpasses or overpasses for major roads in priority koala areas as well as installing koala fencing adjacent to major roads.

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Recommendation 14

Where the Australian Government provides funding for roads or other infrastructure in or adjacent to koala habitat, it be contingent on the provision of adequate koala protections.

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Recommendation 15

The Australian Government work with the states to develop new national guidelines to ensure that all new roads and upgrades in or adjacent to koala habitat are koala-friendly.

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Recommendation 16

The (Australian Government’s) Environment Minister consider the evidence provided to this inquiry when making his final decision on listing the koala as a threatened species.

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Recommendation 17

The (Australian Government’s) Environment Minister consider options to improve the conservation status of the diverse and rapidly declining koala populations in New South Wales and Queensland to ensure a nationally resilient population is maintained. These options include listing the koala as vulnerable under the EPBC Act in areas where populations have declined significantly or are at risk of doing so.

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Recommendation 18

An independent external review be conducted on the National Koala Conservation and Management Strategy to monitor the adequacy of progress. The review should assess and report on the progress made at the strategy’s midpoint.

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The review must include an assessment of the:

  • Strategy’s implementation to date and prospects into the future;
  • Strategy’s effectiveness in stabilising koala numbers in areas of declining population, and in reducing the pressure of overabundant populations;
  • Strategy’s level of ambition, including whether new elements are required; and
  • Adequacy of the Commonwealth’s and the states’ respective roles and funding commitments.

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Recommendation 19

The Australian Government adequately resource the National Koala Conservation and Management Strategy, and ensure that it is properly implemented through committing to a much stronger leadership role.>>

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Of note, ‘Recommendation 17‘ restricted the conservation status of the Koala only to ensure a ‘nationally resilient population is maintained’.   That means that regional extinctions shall be acceptable, so long as  a ‘nationally resilient population is maintained’ somewhere.

These are the places that the Koala is deemed to be declining and so given the vulnerable status.  Other Koala populations elsewhere don’t weem to matter to the Australian Government.

Koala tokenly listed as ‘Vulnerable’ but politically only at the above ‘selected places’
under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999)

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2000:   Even then, the United States recognised Koalas as ‘Vulnerable’

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<<Back on 9th May 2000, the United States Government listed all koalas in Australia as vulnerable under the Endangered Species Act.  The US Government determined that a) the eucalyptus and woodland ecosystems on which the arboreal marsupial depends has been greatly reduced, b) that despite conservation action by the governments of Australia, koala habitat continues to deteriorate, and c) that irrespective of koala numbers, the threats were present and real.

At the time, the Australian Government was outraged.  The Australian Koala Foundation considered that the US may have been pointing out to Australia (when President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were in power) that Australia needed to control its land clearing in readiness for the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. One petitioner pointed out that Australia at that time was clearing land second only to the Amazon.

At the time, the Victorian Government was pleading that they ‘had so many koalas they are pests’, and a similar cry was heard in the 2011 Senate Committee Enquiry into the plight of the Koala.

Australian Greens Leader, Senator Bob Brown had in 2010 successfully moved for a new Senate Comittee Enquiry to assess the threats to and management of koalas across the country. The Inquiry into the status, health and sustainability of Australia’s koala population, has particular reference to:

  1. the iconic status of the koala and the history of its management;
  2. estimates of koala populations and the adequacy of current counting methods;
  3. knowledge of koala habitat; d. threats to koala habitat such as logging, land clearing, poor management, attacks from feral and domestic animals, disease, roads and urban development;
  4. the listing of the koala under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;
  5. the adequacy of the National Koala Conservation and Management Strategy;
  6. appropriate future regulation for the protection of koala habitat;
  7. interaction of state and federal laws and regulations; and i. any other related matters.

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Environment Minister Tony Burke appears to have been swayed by this plea as unlike his United States counterparts he did not consider the following in the American citation “…the actual number of koalas that were present at various times in the past and that may still exist is of much interest and helps to give some perspective but, as for many species, may not be the critical factor in determining whether the species is threatened. A low figure may reflect natural rarity of a population in marginal habitats. A high figure may be misleading if the entire habitat of the involved population faces imminent destruction”.

The document continues “…if we receive strong biological arguments, we would consider giving separate consideration to particular populations. It should be recognised, however, that koalas cannot be considered separate populations solely because they reside in different state jurisdictions”.

No such biological argument could be made. On the contrary, genetic studies in Victoria show that by and large all Victorian koalas, except those in the eastern part, are all pretty much genetically identical which means the future is bleak for conservation. Some of them even have testicles missing. On Kangaroo Island, some research suggests that as many as 29 per cent may have this affliction.

Imagine a koala that lives on the Murray River in New South Wales. On one side of the river, it has protection, but if it swims to Victoria, it does not. In AKF’s view, either the Australian Government values our national icon for its contribution to our nation or it does not.

As seen on Four Corners last night, the fur trade decimated the koala and the remnant populations are still low as a result of that slaughter.

Nowadays, the Koala pays its way in big tourism dollars, not the paltry one shilling (around 10 cents) per skin.

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‘But the koala has powerful enemies. In the senate inquiry, developers, loggers, bureaucrats and even some departments of environment pleaded with the senators not to list the Koala because it would upset the developers or impede growth.’

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The partial listing of the koala as vulnerable in NSW, ACT and Queensland can be seen as some sort of win, but will the existing legislation (the EPBC Act) be strong enough to protect the koala from long term destruction of its habitat?

Although the animal itself has been protected since 1936, its habitat really has not.

The Australian Koala Foundation believes its future lies in a koala-specific legislation similar to that of the American Bald Eagle Act, enacted in 1942. The Americans realised that if they did not do something strong and powerful they might lose their national icon forever. We believe that time has come now. The AKF estimates there may be as few a 43,000 koalas with no more than 85,000 left in its original habitat. If we are right, then there is no time to waste.

Greens Senator Bob Brown, as a final gesture before leaving Parliament, said he would support the AKF in our endeavours to enact a Koala Protection Bill. This should be a simple piece of legislation that basically says if you have koalas on your property that you cannot harm them, remove their trees and must – and that is the operative word – must ensure that your activity is benign for their long term future.

Four Corners has identified real threats to the koala and a partial listing will probably not make them go away. Neither will a specific piece of legislation, unless all our politicians actually realise we are at real risk of losing them.’>>

[Source:  ‘Koalas deserve full protection‘,  by Deborah Tabart, Chief Executive of the Australian Koala Foundation, 20120821, ABC, ^http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2012/08/21/3571830.htm  ; https://www.savethekoala.com/about-us/news-events/senate-inquiry]
 
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Dead Koalas on a vet’s autopsy table – with all the Green Talk how has it come to this?
A native species that just sits up a tree, sleeps and hurts no-one
..now dying out because of Australian selfish viciousness.
Koalas are dying or being euthanised by the hundreds as a result of dog predation, road carnage, and Koala Habitat destruction.
[Source:  ‘Koala Crunch Time’, ABC Four Corners (television programme), 20120821,
^http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2012/08/16/3569231.htm]

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Watch ABC Four Corners Programme:   ‘Koala Crunch Time

Australia’s Sprawl Profit overrules Biodiversity
‘Since 1997, koala hospitals along Australia’s eastern seaboard have recorded 15,000 Koala deaths’
 [Source:  Koala Crunch Time’, ABC Four Corners,^http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2012/08/16/3569231.htm]

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Westfield Shopping Centre development profiting out of Koala habitat apocalypse
Low (economic) Cost Housing, Coomera, Queensland

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IUCN wrongly continues to list Koalas as of ‘Least Concern’

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Although Koala’s only exist naturally in Australia, at the international level the Koala  (Phascolarctos cinereus) is still officially listed as of ‘Least Concern‘.

The most recent survey count of Koala status obtained by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the lead global authority on the environment and sustainable development, was back in 2008.  Why, when the rapid decline data has been out since 2010?

Phascolarctos cinereus  (Koala)
The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species,
 ^http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/16892/0]

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The IUCN then assessed the Koala as having a ‘wide distribution’ and ‘a presumed large population’.  It ignored regional declines and only regarded the national aggregate as appropriate  data.    Worse is that it stated thay the Koala “requires intensive management in areas where it is considered a pest species“.

Ed:   What ecological incompetence, and wildlife hate would assess wildlife as a pest species?

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The IUCN recognised that the Koala population was in decline in certain areas and identifed the following threats to the species:

  • Continued habitat destruction, fragmentation, and modification (which makes them vulnerable to predation by dogs, vehicle strikes, and other factors)
  • Bushfires
  • Disease
  • Drought associated mortality in habitat fragments

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[Source:  The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – Phascolarctos cinereus (Koala), ^http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/16892/0]

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Koala loss is symptomatic of Australia’s loss of much of the country’s native wildlife, its ecological communities and its biodiversity.

<<As of February 2011, a total of 1777 species are listed as threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act).  A further 210 migratory and 464 marine species are also listed. The EPBC Act also lists 48 ecological communities as being threatened. These communities occur in a range of ecosystems including woodlands, forests, grasslands and wetlands.

Current threats to Australia’s biodiversity are:

  • Habitat loss
  • Degradation and fragmentation
  • Invasive species and diseases
  • Unsustainable use and management of natural resources
  • Marine and coastal pollution  (including from land based sources and vessels)
  • Changes to the aquatic environment and water flows
  • Changing fire regimes (Ed:  bushfire management incompetence, and widespread Government-bush arson)
  • Climate change.>>

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[Source:  ‘Status and Trends of Biodiversity’, Convention on Biological Diversity, ^http://www.cbd.int/countries/profile/?country=au#nbsap]

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<<Friends of the Koala president Lorraine Vass said conservationists had been waiting for many years for koalas to be listed as vulnerable.

“At least a vulnerable to extinction listing,” she said.  “It’s an additional layer of legislative protection and it’s better to have it than not to have it.  “Apart from anything else it will be a very, very strong signal to everyone that at long last the nation is taking some responsibility for our national icon.”

Ms Vass said statistics as well as anecdotal evidence showed koala numbers were rapidly declining, particularly in the Tweed (north eastern coastal New South Wales).

“I live at Wyrallah on a small property where koalas come and go, on the basis of observation at home I know that we’re seeing nowhere near as many koalas as we used to”, she said.

“In terms of statistics we’re actually bringing into care more koalas than we used to, but at the same time there are particular areas where we’re not bringing in as many koalas as we used to.   So there are areas of local stress and the coastal area of Tweed is certainly one of those.”>>

[Source: ‘Greater protection for koalas‘, by journalist Samantha Turnbull, 20120430, ABC North Coast New South Wales, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ^http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2012/04/30/3491805.htm, accessed 20121102]

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<<This poor Koala was attacked by a Rottweiler in a suburban yard. It was reported that the koala was trying to get away and the dog grabbed it by the hindquarters as it was shimmying up a tree.

Koala injuries from a dog attack
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
^http://www.koalahospital.org.au/

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Sadly, this is a common occurrence with Koala’s. If it is not the hindquarters that are grabbed is around the neck or shoulder area. Usual injuries from this kind of incident are multiple puncture and tear wounds, with massive internal canine crush injuries.   This koala had about 60 odd puncture wounds on his rump and groin area with many deep lacerations. His musculature around the groin and thigh area was lacerated pretty badly.

He died from shock, blood loss and ultimately a perforation of the intestine.  The staff at the hospital gave him large amounts of fluids, and he was on strong painkillers and antibiotics. His wounds were flushed and he was kept in a warmed environment, but he died anyway.>>

[Source:  Fourth Crossing Wildlife, ^http://www.fourthcrossingwildlife.com/dog_attack.htm]

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Koala road deaths increasing

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<<Not-for-profit conservation group, Friends of the Koala say 52 koalas were killed by vehicles on north coast roads last year.

The findings are part of the organisation’s annual report which documents the reasons behind the deaths of 222 north coast koalas.  Association president Lorraine Vass says dog attacks and disease account for many koalas in their care.  But she says hits from cars are the biggest concern.

“One disturbing trend is an increase in road strikes,” she said.  “Unfortunately that is a number that just keeps on increasing and last year we had 52 reports of koalas hit by cars.  “Most of them, I’m afraid, were mortalities.”

But Ms Vass says there’s a positive outlook for koalas despite the figures.  “I think there’s a lot to be optimistic about in terms of what’s going on with koala protection this year we’ve seen Lismore, we’ve got Tweed and Byron, those councils all working on a koala plan of management,” she said.  “We’ve seen the federal announcement of the koala being listed under federal law as I say there’s a lot to be optimistic about.”>>

[Source:  ‘Koala road deaths on rise‘, by Elloise Farrow-Smith, ABC, 20121019, ^http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/10/19/3614061.htm]

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Koalas face a bleak future

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Ed:   The International Union for Conservation of Nature‘s global framework God-like governance for wildlife threatened by humanity is all about prioritising wildlife species most at risk of extinction for most protection. 

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It proclaims that if a species is not about to become extinct in the next ten years, its is not as important for conservation as those species that are.  

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But this is an Armageddon last man standing rationalisation.  It may be administratively convenient, but it is an economic utilitarian philosophy that denies the rights of native wildlife to exist freely without persecution.

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Were such an IUCN rationalist framwork applied to humans, such that don’t worry about say Chinese or Indians catching a deadly pandemic because there are a billion of them, it would be labelled as Herbert Spencer’s Social Darwinism or as Nazi Eugenics and quite rightly so.  At The Habitat Advocate we espouse a worldview of Nature through:   ^Deonteological Ethics   and   >Species Justice.

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Every wildlife individual is valuable and has existence rights no different to humans.

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Test:  Would a human mother sacrifice her eldest or her youngest?

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[Ed:  All references sourced for this article 20111102]

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Further Reading:

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[1] Koala Species Profile‘, Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of Environment etc, Australian Government, ^http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=85104

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[2] Listing Advice to protect the Koala under the EPBC Act‘, Department of Environment etc, Australian Government,^http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/197-listing-advice.pdf     >Read Listing Advice  (42 pages, PDF, 400kb – – NB. if slow to open, GoTo:  File > Save As.., then open the PDF file from your auto-download folder)

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[3]  Koala Habitat Distribution Map (surveyed in 2011), Department of Environment etc, Australian Government, 2012 ^http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/pubs/phascolarctos-cinereus-distribution-map.pdf

>Read Map  (PDF, 300kb – NB. if slow to open, GoTo:  File > Save As.., then open the PDF file from your auto-download folder)

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[4]  ‘Koala now threatened species‘, 20120215, Radio National Breakfast (radio programme), Australian Broadcasting Corporation,’There’s quiet optimism among koala experts that our national icon will finally be classified as a threatened or endangered species’.^http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/2012-02-15/3830832

>Play .mp3 audio:

2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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[5]   ‘Iconic animals – the koala‘, by Margot Foster, 20111228, ABC Rural (radio programme), Australian Broadcasting Corporation,

Abstract:   ‘Michael Cathcart looks at the current efforts to protect this vulnerable animal. A senate committee has been looking into ‘the status, health and sustainability of Australia’s koala population’. He discovers the koala’s role as a cultural icon and the impact on our awareness of the koala, made by Norman Lindsay, as well as Dreamtime representations of the koala which reveal a great deal about the unique physiology and habits of this elusive animal.

The history of extensive slaughter of the koala since white settlement, because of the quality of its fur and value abroad, is an irony today because on Raymond Island, East Gippsland, koalas are making too many babies.  There are about three hundred koalas on the small island and Department of Sustainability and Environment wildlife manager Charlie Franken says that’s about 250 too many.

Michael Cathcart speaks with Deborah Tabart OAM, CEO of the Australian Koala Foundation; Ann Moyal, author Of “Koala: A Historical Biography”; Michael J Connolly, Munda-gutta Kulliwari, Dreamtime Kullilla-Art; Helen Glad, Norman Lindsay’s grand daughter; Ann Moyal, author and historian; Charlie Franken, wildlife manager, Department of Sustainability and Environment; Dr Jay Patterson, Melbourne zoo vet and Dr Grant Kuseff, Bairnsdale veterinary surgeon;

^http://www.abc.net.au/rural/telegraph/content/2011/s3390776.htm

>Play .mp3 audio   (large data file so may take a minute):

2011 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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[6]   ‘Interim koala referral advice for proponents‘, June 2012, Department of Environment (etc.), Australian Government,

Abstract:   ‘Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) populations in Queensland (QLD), New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) have been listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). This listing came into legal effect on 2 May 2012. The listed threatened QLD, NSW and ACT populations are hereafter referred to in these guidelines as the koala.’

^http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/pubs/bio240-0612-interim-koala-referral-advice.pdf

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[7]   Australian Koala Foundation, ^https://www.savethekoala.com/

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[8]   Koala Hospital, Port Macquarieuth Wales, ^http://www.koalahospital.org.au/

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[9]   IUCN. (2001). IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. ii + 30 pp, ^http://www.iucnredlist.org/documents/redlist_cats_crit_en.pdf  , >Read Document

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