As you read this, I will be winging my way to my family in the United States to have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. I am so looking forward to a break after a long koala year.
The AKF is proud of what we have achieved this year and, as I leave, we have gathered a new and innovative team for the road ahead. They are savvy, smart and wanting to help the koala. They are learning from us elders about what did and did not work, and I know that you are all going to have great leadership as we work towards getting the koala protected.
The Senate Report which brought so much promise seems to have fallen short of our expectations with the Minister yet again delaying a decision. I am confident the Minister is not going to list the koala as vulnerable, but we will know on 17th February 2012. There seems to be much ado in the koala world with scientists, zoos, researchers and others all jockeying into position so they can claim any dollars that Government and others may want to throw at the koala problem. Both sides of politics are aligned on this, so I suspect 2012 will be a hard year for the koala yet again, with a federal election looming in 2013. There will be plenty of documents going around, but of little substance. You just have to wonder what are the forces that stop the protection of the koala.
Just so we are all clear, the only thing that is necessary right now is a listing of the koala as vulnerable under the EPBC Act. Without that fundamental first step everything is else is just a giant band-aid. A little bit of a fix on a road here, a little bit of a fix with a radio tracking project there and, worse still, the ridiculous concept of offsets. Offsets are where good koala habitat is destroyed while new ones are built. They are just not going to cut through the problem and I cannot understand why people would still be fooled by that notion.
For those of you who are koala’s Campaigners, I think you need to pat yourselves on the back for all the endless letter writing, which I do think bore fruit with the Senate Committee being established. As you know, Urban has gone bush to consider his options for the future, and he has sent his Christmas card to us all. Thank you campaigners and supporters for allowing the AKF to be such a free voice for the protection of the koala and its habitat.
The AKF is now 25 years old and I would like to send you, with my best wishes for this marvelous time of year, our 25 year document. It is great reading and shows the commitment of our staff, Board and mentors, and you - those who keep us in business. We are very grateful. Please click here to make your Christmas donation. My commitment to the koala is stronger than ever and that commitment comes in part from the tremendous emails I receive when I write to you. Please keep them coming.
Last week I was interviewed at the unholy hour of 1.45am. It was live and as I sat there sipping my chamomile tea (hoping I would be able to go back to sleep), I was amazed at who is up at that time and better still I was able to hear stories of everyday Australians who love koalas. It was hilarious really to hear stories of 'Kenny' or 'Bill' who share the lives of my countrymen. Click here to read one of the stories we received after the interview.
In the New Year KoalaMap will be updated so we can share with you some of the many images we receive. We will also have a video presence so you will be able to watch footage of koalas in the wild from those who can still share their lives on their properties.
Mr Darcy and I visited a koala in my neighbourhood recently and you can see the photos here in his diary. Mr Darcy also sends you his best wishes for Christmas. I will miss him and all my animals while I am away, but I promise I will return invigorated for 2012.
Have a safe and happy Christmas everyone!
PS - I still have 100's of emails that I am unable to respond to before I leave - you will hear from me in the new year!
The AKF office will be closed from
23rd December to 9th January 2012