84,000 hectares of critical habitat for koalas was destroyed in Queensland in the two years following the weakening of laws to protect trees, WWF-Australia and the Australian Koala Foundation revealed this week.
The two organisations teamed up to expose the alarming loss of critical habitat – which equals about 50,000 AFL fields – in just 24 months.
WWF-Australia conservation scientist Dr Martin Taylor and AKF Landscape Ecologist David Mitchell compared the official Queensland Government maps of vegetation clearing and overlapped them with AKF’s sophisticated Koala Habitat Mapping.
The key points are:
– 84,000 ha of critical Queensland habitat for koalas were cleared in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 years
– The rate of loss increased from 37,000ha in 2013/14 to 47,000ha in 2014/15
– Retaining all remaining critical habitat is essential for recovery of the species
– 91% of clearing was for pasture (including clearing done using the controversial self-assessable thinning code)
“How can this happen when the Koala was listed as Vulnerable under Federal laws in 2012? Why wasn’t this land clearing referred to the Federal Government instead of a rubber stamp here in Queensland?” Deborah Tabart OAM, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Koala Foundation said.
“The loss of this much habitat is shocking given the recent statement that Koalas are functionally extinct in various parts of Queensland. The AKF stands ready to give any Member of Parliament a briefing on the plight of koalas,” she said.
“If we want to save koalas in Queensland then we have to stop the bulldozers destroying their habitat – it’s that simple,” Dr Taylor said.
Both AKF and WWF are urging all members of the Queensland Parliament to respect the science and support the bill to restore Queensland’s land clearing controls.