Road to extinction: Koala’s now endangered as habitats disappear

Feb 13, 2022
Environmental conservationists hope the koalas new listing will save the iconic Australian species, Source: Getty

The Australian government has officially listed as endangered across New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, in a bid to protect dwindling numbers of cuddly creatures.

A threatened species scientific committee has recommended to Federal Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, that the status of the vulnerable marsupials be changed to endangered.

“Today I am increasing the protection for koalas in NSW, the ACT and Queensland, listing them as endangered rather than their previous designation of vulnerable,” Ley said.

“The impact of prolonged drought, followed by the Black Summer bushfires, and the cumulative impacts of disease, urbanisation and habitat loss over the past twenty years have led to the advice.”

According to the Sydney Morning Herald research done by the Australian Conversation Foundation found the Federal government had signed off on 63 projects that resulted in the clearing of more than 25,000 hectares of koala homes.

Under national law, the koala’s new status means the much-loved animal’s plight has become an even more urgent matter, and prior Australian government officials have failed to turn the animal’s horrific circumstances around since it was first listed as vulnerable 10 years ago.

News of the koala’s new endangerment status comes a month after the Morrison government announced their $50m plan to help save the species. 

And though funding was welcomed by environmentalists, it was still described as a “drop in the ocean” if the government did not address the root cause of the species’ decline.

Speaking to The Guardian, Alexia Wellbelove, senior campaign manager at Humane Society International (HSI) said “Money alone isn’t the issue to save the koala…You need a strong conservation framework.”

However, Ley states that in addition to the Koala’s endangerment listing, the government has plans to adopt “a long-awaited national recovery plan” for the animals.

The declared recovery plan outlines the key threats to the koalas and the appropriate action needed to prevent their extinction.

The Guardian reports that such a plan had been identified under numerous nation environmental laws as a requirement for the specials over the last 10 years, but no Australian government had developed on. 

The long-overdue koala recovery plan is just one of over 200 plans needed for Australia’s increasingly threatened wildlife.

Once the recovery plan has been drafted and implemented, the minister have a legal obligation to ensure the decisions are consistent with it, however, the government has no obligation to actually implement the plan.

The lovable creatures are currently under immense pressure from multiple ongoing threats such as disease, global warming and the constant clearing of their homes for developmental projects.

Back in 2020, the NSW parliament inquiry found that koalas could be extinct in their state by 2050 unless urgent action to protect them was implemented.

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