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Concerns about koala future in NSW, Victoria

Environment Minister Ley holding a young koala in 2020

Australian Environment Minister Sussan Ley recently elevated the threat level to eastern Australian koalas' survival and despite a lesser concern level, the southern species endemic in Victoria has its own challenges.

Southwestern NSW federal MP for Farrer Ms Ley appeared on Flow to speak about her ministerial decision to list eastern koalas as an endangered species and highlighted a number of worries that she has about one of Australia’s most iconic animals:

“I recently listed the koalas of Queensland, the ACT and New South Wales as endangered, they were previously vulnerable, so I’ve uplifted them, we’ve got concerns following the bushfires and a lot of them are vulnerable to disease.”
“We’re concerned about those populations but we’re also optimistic about what we can do for them going forward.”
“Victorian ones are not under threat, but their genetics are not as good”.

On Monday the Victorian government announced a new strategy for southern koala populations, updating the 2004 strategy

The strategy was developed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, in collaboration with Traditional Owners, scientists, animal welfare organisations, wildlife carers, the blue gum plantation industry, veterinarians and other government agencies from Victoria and interstate.

Estimates from the first state-wide koala abundance model, developed by the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, estimates that Victoria's koala population stands at 460,000. Around 413,000 koalas inhabit native forests and woodlands and a further 47,000 koalas in eucalypt plantations.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said their draft strategy presented an opportunity for the community to inform the final strategy for managing the southern koala population:

“This is an opportunity for the Victorian community to have their say and make sure our koala populations and their habitat, are healthy and resilient for future generations.”

Ley outlined on Friday how she intends to oversee a recent sum of funding that has been secured to protect koalas.

“What we’re focussing on with all of the funding, $74m in total that I’ve allocated for koalas, is making sure that we have the strongest genetics for our koalas going forward, to keep them healthy and to restore some of their habitat.”
“When I think about the amount of mail that I get from all over the world, I can tell you that the number one item on correspondence from overseas is our koalas.”

Ms Ley highlighted that koalas were never endemic in South Australia or Western Australia, but have come to also inhabit those regions also.


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