- Thursday 12 November 2015
The koala is an iconic Australian species that is under threat in South East Queensland and today Sunshine Coast councillors showed they were serious about taking action in their region by unanimously endorsing the Koala Conservation Plan.
Environment Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said Sunshine Coast Council recognised there were many reasons to conserve koalas on the Coast.
“Research shows 75% of international tourists hope to see a koala when coming to Australia and it is estimated that the koala contributes $1.1 billion to the Australian tourism industry,” Cr McKay said.
“And many locals choose to live on the Sunshine Coast for its natural environment and knowing that they live alongside koalas and other native fauna can contribute significantly to their sense of place.
“Troublingly, loss and fragmentation of habitat, disease and trauma from car strikes and dog and feral animal attacks are taking a significant toll on koala populations with some researchers warning the koala could be at risk of local extinctions in South East Queensland.”
Environment Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said the Koala Conservation Plan provided a framework to guide management actions for retaining a viable koala population, as well as preserving and enhancing suitable habitat in the Sunshine Coast local government area.
“Council’s vision for the Sunshine Coast is to be Australia’s most sustainable region – vibrant, green, diverse,” she said.
“The Koala Conservation Plan is underpinned by this vision and provides a realistic framework for council and the community to work in partnership to protect our unique natural environment and the biodiversity within it.
“The plan is supported by the Sunshine Coast Biodiversity Strategy 2010-2020, which provides the strategic direction for protecting and enhancing biodiversity values on the Sunshine Coast.
“Extensive community and targeted stakeholder consultation was undertaken in its development with feedback resulting in changes being made wherever possible and practicable.
“The final Koala Conservation Plan includes 34 actions that all contribute to a landscape conservation approach, which also supports broader environmental protection in addition to, specific koala conservation outcomes.”
The Koala Conservation Plan aims to:
• determine where koalas exist on the Sunshine Coast and understand local threats
• collect robust scientific data, including koala habitat mapping to inform management decisions
• identify priority locations to enhance the quality of core koala habitat and improve connectivity
• ensure development assessment processes support the protection of koalas and their habitat
• highlight where mitigation measures are most required
• guide community involvement in programs and partnerships that increase koala habitat availability, connectivity, build understanding and mitigate threats.