Federal Government’s $50 million pledge to koalas
The Australian Government will soon funnel a record $50 million into koala habitat protection and recovery programs, in an effort to safeguard the vulnerable Australian species.
Koalas are in serious decline due to habitat destruction, domestic dog attacks, bushfires and road accidents, with estimations there are less than 100,000 left in the wild.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday said the funding would collate researchers, land managers, veterinarians and citizen scientists to protect the animal.
The funding will support critical habitat, improve and extend monitoring, and deliver training in treatment and care.
“Koalas are one of Australia’s most loved and best recognised icons, both here at home and across the world, and we are committed to protecting them for generations to come,” Mr Morrison said.
Extreme bushfires across eastern Australia in 2020 displaced an estimated 3 billion animals, with thousands of koalas among the dead.
It’s now believed almost one third of the country’s koalas have disappeared due to fires, drought, disease and deforestation.
In NSW, the bush fires destroyed an estimated 70 per cent of some koala populations and a state inquiry warned the species would go extinct before 2050 without urgent government intervention.
Koalas were officially listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act in May 2012, but activists claim little has been done to restore the species since then.
Currently, koalas are found in four Australian states, according to the Australian Koala Foundation, including NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.
Where the koala funding will go
- $20 million for habitat and health protection projects – grants for large-scale activities run by Natural Resource Management and non-government organisations, industry, and Indigenous groups, as well as state and territory governments
- $10 million for community-led initiatives – grants for local habitat protection and restoration activities, health and care facilities, and citizen science projects
- $10 million to extend the National Koala Monitoring Program – to identify trends over time, increase the number of sites sampled, and support the participation of citizen scientists
- $2 million to improve Koala health outcomes – grants for applied research activities and practical application to address health challenges such as retrovirus, herpesviruses, and chlamydia
- $1 million for Koala care, treatment and triage – expanding and continuing national training for veterinarians and nurses to care for and treat koalas.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the $50 million package would provide significant flow on benefits for other native species.
“Importantly, the extra funding will build on work already happening across the koala range to restore and connect important habitat patches, control feral animal and plant species, and improve existing habitat,” Minister Ley said.
“Research is underway to reduce the disease threat facing many animals including a world first genome sequencing program to determine the genetic strength of populations and how unique DNA variants can provide resistance to diseases such as chlamydia.
“More than 3200 vets and veterinary nurses have received specialist bushfire trauma training, with new programs to be funded as we continue to work with major zoos to support research and treatment.”
Originally published as Federal Government’s $50 million pledge to koalas
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails