Koala habitat being cleared, mined and “developed”, with impotent environmental protection laws
Almost all the Australians are aware of the Koalas existence and they associate Koalas as one of the most native animals. We consider Koalas to be one of the national symbols of Australia, along with Kangaroos. They are iconic animals.
The koala is featured in the Dreamtime stories and mythology of indigenous Australians. The Tharawal people believed that the animal helped row the boat that brought them to the continent. In 2012, the Australian government listed koala populations in Queensland and New South Wales as Vulnerable, because of a 40% population decline in the former and a 33% decline in the latter. In this light, protection of koala habitats should have been UPGRADED, not loosened!
Now, it seems that koalas in Queensland are simply “green tape” prohibiting the advancement of industries on their land!
The koala’s territory is getting smaller because people are cutting down trees and making farms on them.
A gas company has been given federal approval to clear 54 hectares of critical koala habitat for new coal seam gas wells on Queensland’s Western Downs.
QGC, which is owned by Shell, applied to drill 25 new wells near Dalby as part of project Anya. Four Corners reveals how several leading vets and wildlife organisations say high-rise developments up and down the eastern coastline are culling the koala population.
“While the identified koala habitat values within [the site] is considered to be in good condition, the very low density of koalas combined with large home ranges within a geographically extensive intact remnant, will result in “no significant impact”,” the report read.
(image: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29524856)
Wilderness Society Queensland Campaign Manager Gemma Plesman said: “It’s outrageous that the [Malcolm] Turnbull Government would approve clearing more of their habitat when it is a threatened species supposedly protected by Federal law.
“Koala populations in south-east Queensland are feeling the crunch. Their homes are being torn up from urban development, industrial scale agriculture and, as we’re seeing here, mining.”
Ms Tabart Chief Executive of the Koala Foundation said the federal environmental act had failed koalas in Queensland. Numbers of the iconic animal have been depleted in Queensland in recent years in large part due to lax land clearing laws and little government oversight to protect habitats. Australia Koala Foundation chief executive Deborah Tabart described koalas in the region of southeast Queensland as “functionally extinct” and said the whole system of wildlife protection was broken.
“The Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act in my view has been a complete waste of time to protect koala habitat,” she said.
“An area of 187 hectares within QGC’s biodiversity property in central Queensland will be set aside to offset any potential loss of habitat.” But Ms Tabart said that was pointless.
“You get up to 70 and 80 per cent mortality once you move animals away from their homes,” she said. You can’t just “offset” habitat.
Under pressure from big business Federal, State and Territory governments are moving forward with an aggressive plan to wind back our environmental protection laws. By cutting ‘green tape’, handing important federal approval powers to the states, and fast tracking approvals for large development, federal protection for our most special places and wildlife will be removed, and mining and other destructive development in our forests, woodlands and along our coasts will be accelerated.
In another attack on our native icons, koalas,a Chinese property developer closely connected to a mayor in southeast Queensland has secured approvals to build a $750 million resort in a koala habitat that the state government has said it will not oppose. Why are foreigners able to “develop” our land, anyway? Would Australians be building a resort over Panda habitat?
The above approval by Logan council, which is expected to deliver massive windfalls to developer Liansheng Yue after he bought the farmland for $843,000 in 2009, was granted despite 28 of 29 public submissions received by council opposed to the project. What’s windfall for the developer, is a permanent tragedy our nation, being cleared of native animals.
Koalas are facing death by a thousand cuts, and legislation that protects big businesses and corporations, just obliterating any environmental laws that protect our native animals. Where is our “Environment” Minister, and environmental protection laws? They don’t exist if they can just be over-ridden.
Unless we stop the bulldozers, the koala will go extinct in Queensland. Extinction is a process, not an event. Australia’s reputation as being famous for fast-tracked native animal extinctions must end.
This was sent via email to Dr Steven Miles is the Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef. Steven has a PhD in Political Science and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Journalism from the University of Queensland. Note: NO environmental, ecological or zoology credentials at all!