One of Australia’s most famous icons will be given ‘unquestionable’ protection under a proposed tough new law.
Koalas will be given the highest level of protection of any animal species in Australian history under a proposed ‘unquestionable’ new law.
The Australian Koala Foundation is pushing for a federal “Koala Protection Act” that would ban land clearing and other activities that damage all habitats for the beloved species.
Up to 1.5 million square kilometers of forest, or 20 percent of the Australian continent, will be protected under a plan devised by a lobbying group.
The foundation sent its bill to the new Minister of the Environment, Tanya Plibersek, who was contacted for comment.
The Morrison government earlier this year passed a scientific recommendation to declare koalas critically endangered in Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT after declining numbers due to land clearing and wildfires.
The Australian Koala Foundation is concerned that koalas are not endangered in South Australia and Victoria.
He also pointed out that the federal koala recovery plan is still pending, ten years after the species was first listed as “vulnerable.”
Foundation chairman Deborah Tabart says there is not enough vision for the future in Australian environmental laws and “protecting entire landscapes is essential.”
“The koala and the thousands of other species that live in these forests need the Koala Protection Act — it’s already in place and only requires the minister’s signature,” she said.
“This single revolutionary piece of legislation will protect koalas and their habitat by ensuring that development and new infrastructure are designed to provide a beneficial impact on their habitat.”
Ms Tabart said protecting koalas makes economic sense given that forestry is a “dying industry” and tourism is a resilient one.
She estimates the government will save $3 billion by protecting koala forests, as they are also home to other vulnerable species that require costly restoration plans.
Ms Tabart said that’s the “exact amount” the koalas bring in in tourism dollars per year.
The foundation’s call comes ahead of Ms. Plibersek’s first major speech since she was sworn into the environmental and water portfolio.
Ms Plibersek will address the National Press Club in Canberra on 19 July on the results of Australia’s official five-year scientific assessment of the state of Australia’s environment.
The report, which the former coalition government received last year but did not release, is expected to be devastating.
Ms Plibersek is expected to respond to the official review of Australia’s main environmental law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC).
The EPBC review was conducted by the former head of the consumer watchdog organization, Graham Samuel, in a previous parliamentary term.
He made 38 recommendations after finding that the EPBC Act was failing both the environment and developers and contributing to Australia’s unsustainable habitat loss.
Originally published as ‘Revolutionary’ plan to save koalas under proposed new laws