A national audit of koala populations will be a key component of an $18 million package to help protect Australia’s iconic species.
The landmark koala package will include funding for health research and medical support, as well as the restoration of key habitat sites through on-ground actions such as revegetation, weed control, fencing, managed grazing and tailored fire planning and implementation.
Launching the initiative at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, the koala audit will help direct Commonwealth, state and private funding to where it will achieve the most good for the species.
For all our focus on koalas, scientists are telling us that there is a serious lack of data about where populations actually are, how they are faring and the best ways to help them recover after the devastating bushfires.
$2 million from this package will be devoted to filling those gaps, identifying where koala habitat areas can be expanded and establishing an annual monitoring program.
Taronga Zoo is a shining example of what can be achieved, where staff are utilizing Australian Government funding to identify emerging risks following the fires, develop captive breeding programs, and build future bushfire response capacity from animal collection to the upskilling of veterinary teams.
The funding will help scientists understand how to better support koalas.
Scientists are telling us that there is a serious lack of data on koala populations. Identifying where koala habitats are through annual reporting will help us identify ways we can better help support them now and into the future.
Annual reporting on koala populations and conservation strategies will become a mandatory agenda item at Meetings of National Environment Ministers and a range of techniques will be employed from scat monitoring to drone and acoustic surveys, detector dogs and citizen science surveys.
Threatened Species Commissioner Dr Sally Box said that this funding boost comes at a critical time for our koalas, following the devastating bushfires which killed and injured thousands.
The announcement will support the conservation community to respond to the devastating 2019-20 summer bushfire season which impacted important habitat for koalas and other threatened species right across Australia.
By understanding where koalas are persisting, how they are using the remaining habitat and how they are responding to the fire impacted landscape, we can tailor on-ground efforts to ensure that action is focused where it is needed most.
This package will really boost efforts to better understand the koala and support us in protecting this remarkable species into the future.
Despite their iconic status, there is still much to learn about koalas in different parts of their range.
State and territory agencies, researchers and community groups are collecting much valuable information but there are still gaps and there is a need for national coordination and reporting.
This funding boost will build on these efforts, to give us a much better picture on population numbers and trends, in turn enabling us to better target our conservation effort.
From the funding package a further $2 million will be invested in koala health research and veterinary support, tackling challenges such as Chlamydia and other diseases that are second only to car strikes in the normal causes of koala mortality recorded in veterinary hospitals.
The remaining $14 million will help restore impacted koala habitat in both bushfire and non-bushfire affected areas and provide targeted funding for koala habitat in northern NSW and southern Queensland.
The Government is also providing further protection for threatened species with a $6.78 million expansion of Australia’s network of environmental safe havens.
Safe havens are fenced areas and islands, where invasive predators like feral cats, foxes and other threats, are permanently removed to provide long-term protection for native species.
They play a critical role in the fight against extinction and in establishing insurance populations and the Government wants to invest in visionary projects that protect our native mammals at risk of extinction from foxes and feral cats so we can extend the network of safe havens across the country.
Funding priorities under the $6.78 million grants round will be given to projects protecting nationally-listed mammal species that are highly susceptible to predators, and are either not currently protected in a safe haven, or are protected in only one haven.
Further details are available at :https://www.business.gov.au/erfsh