I have now read the 180 page Senate Report – twice, and the only thing missing is Listing the Koala under the EPBC Act, and it is a great disappointment.
That said, I have to congratulate those who wrote this document. It seems to me that this is the first time such a wide variety of individuals, community, industry, researchers and Government have had equal standing and recognition at this level.
Like with all big problems you have to put the horse in front of the cart, so I have written to Minister Burke and asked him to list the koala, and I have also offered him our support to get on with mapping the east coast of Australia which represents Recommendation 6 and 7. There is no organisation in the country or indeed in Government that has our expertise. In my letter I said 'I write in the spirit of koala conservation and offer to work in partnership with your Government to identify other priority areas as the start of a sustained and adequately resourced programme of Koala habitat identification and mapping'.
Our Koala Habitat Atlas maps (KoalaMap) cost in excess of $8m in research, and as always we are offering Government this knowledge and our commitment. It will be very interesting to see if Minister Burke accepts. If I were him, I think I would have to look very closely at both my Department and my advisors. The Senate Report is tough on both, and in some respects it is validating to read it.
AKF has gone to Canberra for over twenty years offering our support and by and large the doors have been closed. I am hoping this report will open them. Time is of the essence, and as Urban has said in his latest letter to the Minister, the Victorian Government and their claim that they have too many koalas should not cloud the conservation debate and stop a national listing. AKF fears this and will not see a piecemeal approach to listing. There is some discussion in the report that they could list 'koalas in peril'. This has not worked in the past and will not work now. Our vigilance for a national listing is paramount. Koalas on mainland Victoria are suffering the same declines as elsewhere in Australia. Those who know this should write to Minister Burke and insist on a national listing.
There is also talk of another review of the National Koala Management Strategy which is supposed to be underway. The original review which cost $50,000 said the old one didn’t work and presumably the new one doesn’t either. I am confident that if I was Minister Burke I would save the $50,000, accept it isn’t working, and just get on with the job. Particularly given the mapping workshop which was supposed to be held in 2010 didn’t happen.
There is much to be done.
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