On 10th November 2009 in Canberra, the capital city of Australia, a group of scientists (including two AKF scientists Dr Douglas Kerlin and Mr David Mitchell) will be deciding whether the koala should be listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the EPBC Act, Australia’s threatened species legislation.
At that meeting, Professor Bob Beeton, the Chairman of the Minister for the Environment’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), will advise the Minister ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Professor Beeton has, in the past, rejected the koala’s nomination twice.
It will be the most important meeting for the koala. Why? For many reasons. For one of those reasons, we must go back to our history to see why the koala was never protected. It is because of our British ancestry. In Dr Ann Moyal’s book Koala – A Historical Biography, she writes: “Not surprisingly, British settlement had immense impact on the wooded landscape… ‘The invaders hated trees’, the historian Keith Hancock declared trenchantly… By the 1860’s the practice of ring barking gum trees (this is a process that kills the tree) was devastating the countryside on a major scale. In this the koala became an irrevocable victim.” Our laws were never meant to protect such wonderful and unique animals as the koala, nor a landscape like Australia’s.
So, as we approach this all important date in November, I want to thank you for being a supporter of the AKF and the koala. We would not be there without you. I promise you Dave and Doug will do everything they can to speak up for the koala.
In preparation for this meeting, we have re-evaluated the maps you see on our website (www.savethekoala.com/koala-maps-1788-2008.html). So much of the original landscape is gone, but the laws in our country make it almost impossible to protect an animal like the koala because of its broad distribution. You almost have to count every single koala to prove they are declining. So, we are doing just that the best way we can. In the meeting we will present new and startling data that in our view proves the koala is steeply declining.
Please write to Mr Garrett and tell him ‘the koala has to be protected’. Ask him, why would a country like Australia risk the koala going to extinction? I can tell you the answer though, it is because our Governments have too close a relationship with the development industry and the koala is in the way.
We will make sure to update you after the meeting. The Minister actually has until September of next year to make the decision. In the meantime I want to assure you that AKF will do everything it can for the koala in the coming weeks.