The ACT Government is seeking thoughts from the Canberra community on a draft plan to protect and preserve the koala in the ACT.
The Native Species Conservation Plan for the Koala will seek to preserve habitat for the species which was formally listed as endangered in the ACT in early 2023.
Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti says this move reflects the urgent need to support the dire situation of koala populations across the country and support the national koala recovery effort.
“Unless the country takes urgent action to protect our koalas, they will be extinct. The only way to protect koalas is to protect all remaining koala habitat wherever it is.
“Koalas, known as Gula in Ngunnawal language, have experienced significant population declines in the ACT since the late 1800s, but the 2020 bushfires have accelerated this trend.
“We continue to search for wild populations of koalas in the ACT and we are hopeful through further conservation research and planning that koalas may one day return to the wild in the territory.
“This Native Species Conservation Plan is a crucial step towards protecting and conserving our koalas in the ACT.
“Despite this, the Federal Government can still do more to coordinate preservation efforts across the country.
“In the middle of an extinction crisis, the Federal Government last month gave the green light to the Isaac River coal mine in Queensland, a project which will see the destruction of endangered koala habitat.
“Let me be clear, there is no way you can meet a zero-extinction target while destroying our natural environment.
“We need action. This is why the ACT Government is now offering Canberrans the chance to help shape the future of koala conservation by sharing their thoughts and ideas on the draft plan.
“We will continue to advocate for a coordinated and evidence-based effort to save koalas across the country. This plan will be one avenue for this advocacy to result in tangible outcomes for our native species, and for Canberrans concerned about our native habitat.”
The Native Species Conservation Plan for the Koala will identify and assess potential koala habitat across the ACT and will determine areas where management actions may be necessary to ensure the preservation of these beloved animals.
It will also investigate the feasibility of a breeding program at Tidbinbilla, and if viable, establish a plan to release koalas into the wild across Ngunnawal Country.
The plan takes a collaborative and holistic approach that incorporates the expertise of First Nations community members and ACT Government ecologists whilst being integrated into the National Recovery Plan for the Koala being led by the Australian Government.
Feedback on the Native Species Conservation Plan for the Gula (Koala) is being accepted until August 22 through the ACT Government YourSay Conversations website.