After nearly a decade of lobbying, the iconic koala bear has finally been given protection under Australia’s national environment law… at least in some parts of the country. Australia’s federal environment minister, Tony Burke, has announced that the creatures will be designated as a vulnerable species, but only in those areas where the species is most at risk, namely New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. Koalas in South Australia and Victoria have been deliberately left out of the designation, as their populations are sustainable and their numbers need to be managed, explained Burke.
The news was welcomed by lobbyists and advocates but some, like Australian Koala Foundation spokeswoman Deborah Tabart, say they would still like to see koalas protected at the national level, to guard against falling population numbers in other areas. According to Burke, the government has set aside $300,000 to look into koala habitats and to develop new ways to surveying existing koala populations.
Photo by Rennett Stowe