Doolie and Dolittle the koalas that avoided being road victims in Noosa.
Doolie and Dolittle the koalas that avoided being road victims in Noosa.

Yurol Forest leads way on koalas

NOOSA's major koala conservation project has been held up as a prime case study in a major southeast Queensland conservation strategy proposal announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The Premier has also invited locals to have their say on the draft South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy 2019-24, which paves the way toward greater protection.

"We know koalas are under threat and that is why my Government has been working with experts, the conservation sector, local governments and industry on a plan to ensure they are protected into the future," she said.

The case study said in November 2017, the Queensland Government endorsed the project in Noosa "that will result in 2400 ha of land within Yurol and Ringtail state

forests transitioning to national park status over the next 10 years".

"The project, which was initiated by the Noosa Shire Council and Noosa Parks Association, will result in the state forests being converted to protected area tenure, and permanent

protection for the corridor between Cooloola and Tewantin national parks," the study said.

"The 2400 ha will be rehabilitated through a $3.5 million investment, jointly funded by the Queensland Government, Noosa Council and Noosa Parks Association.

"This collaborative initiative, the Noosa Koala Corridor Pilot, will rehabilitate koala habitat

within the Noosa hinterland, enhancing and linking fragmented habitat. The approach

used for this project is an example of how conservation gains can be achieved through partnerships across stakeholder groups."

Ms Palaszczuk said the landmark draft strategy and draft mapping which identifies more than 570,000 hectares of land to be declared koala priority areas.

This includes swathes of Noosa Shire and all up the SEQ maps takes in an area twice the size of the ACT - of which more than 300,000 hectares is core habitat.

"We are proposing to implement stronger regulations to limit clearing in these large interconnected areas of high quality habitat.

"Ensuring the protection of these large corridors of land will address one of the main causes of a declining koala population, which is the destruction of habitat," the Premier said.

"We have a once in a generation chance to ensure their survival in the southeast and that is why we are asking every Queenslander to get involved.

"Particularly as recent bushfires have had a devastating effect on the koala population with animals killed or badly injured, it's never been a more pertinent time to act."

Ms Palaszczuk also today announced the Government was providing $50,000 for koala care infrastructure.

The Palaszczuk Government is also investing $2 million into establishing a five-year partnership with the Queensland Trust for Nature to deliver on-ground koala habitat restoration in priority areas through partnerships with landholders and local governments.

Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said the strategy was based on the best available science to protect habitat and give koalas the best chance of survival.

"Sadly, science has shown that koala populations have decreased by 50-80 per cent in southeast Queensland habitat areas over about 20 years and nearly three quarters of essential koala habitat has already been destroyed," she said.

Minister Enoch said koala habitat areas in the strategy were identified using internationally recognised, state-of-the-art modelling, including two decades of koala sighting records, scientific research and existing mapping by local councils.

The strategy has been developed in consultation with a dedicated Koala Advisory Council, which includes members of both conservation and development sectors as well as koala experts, First Nations representatives and local government.

Koala Advisory Council Chair Mark Townend said the strategy was comprehensive and addressed multiple factors that threaten koalas.

Mr Townend said: "The strategy addresses all threats impacting on koala populations including habitat loss, disease management, vehicle strikes and dog attacks.

The new strategy and mapping can be accessed by visiting www.qld.gov.au/seqkoalas.

Consultation on the mapping closes on December 22 and consultation on the strategy closes on 31 January 31.


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