Environment Groups Disappointed with Senate Committee recommendations on Koalas

Friends of the Earth and Friends of Gippsland Bush today announced that they were disappointed with recommendations made by the Senate Standing Committee on the Status, Health and Sustainability of Australia's Koala Population.

Media Release
22 September 2011

Environment Groups Disappointed with Senate Committee recommendations on Koalas


Friends of the Earth and Friends of Gippsland Bush today announced that they were disappointed with recommendations made by the Senate Standing Committee on the Status, Health and Sustainability of Australia's Koala Population.

For the Strzelecki Koala, the recommendations essentially mean that more time will lapse before any meaningful steps are taken to protect these important animals.
Although the Committee recommended that the Environment Minister make recommendations which could include the nomination of the species as vulnerable under the EPBC Act, it also recommends that more genetic studies are carried out to determine key populations on a national basis.

"This work has already been completed in Gippsland, so additional information will not produce any new results. These new studies could take years, years which the Strzelecki Koala does not have" said Suzie Zent from Friends of Gippsland Bush.

In terms of the Strzelecki Koala this will mean business as usual for the pulp and paper industry which is currently logging almost 1000 hectares of Strzelecki Koala habitat per year.

"We agree that there needs to be better monitoring of koala populations, however this monitoring will take place during a time of conversion from koala habitat to non-koala habitat. Attempts to safeguard the Strzelecki Koala on genetic grounds will be completely undermined without adequate immediate habitat protection" Friends of the Earth Spokesperson Anthony Amis said.

Since the privatisation of the Strzelecki Ranges by the Kennett Government in the 1990's, Hancock Victorian Plantations has logged approximately 10,000ha of koala habitat and replanted it with hybridised Shining Gum. Shining Gum is a potentially toxic species, which is non-native to the Strzeleckis and is not a known Koala feed tree.

“Hancock Victorian Plantations must immediately place a moratorium on logging any areas where populations of koalas are known, until the Strzelecki Koala population project is completed. Claims that the Strzelecki koala is being adequately managed by the timber industry cannot be substantiated in any shape or form,” said Ms Zent.

"The Strzelecki koalas also lost core breeding populations and thousands of hectares of habitat in the 2009 bushfires that devastated a large part of the ranges, this is on top of almost ten thousand hectares of trees logged due to logging over the past decade by Hancock Victorian Plantations." concluded Mr Amis.

For further information contact:

- Anthony Amis, Friends of the Earth              0425 841 564      
- Suzie Zent, Friends of Gippsland Bush              03 5169 1588