Council releases renewed five year koala action plan

Redland City Council has renewed its five year koala action plan calling for all levels of community and government support for targeted and practical efforts to for koala conservation.

Mayor Karen Williams said the revised the Redland Koala Conservation Action Plan 2016-2021 followed a substantial internal review of past actions and outcomes.

“Despite decades of effort to re-establish a stable koala population, the latest State analysis suggests a continuing decline of 80 percent in the Koala Coast population once estimated at 6000.

“Council believes that a revised approach is required and future action needs to be scientifically based, practical, measurable and targeted.

“While many of the proposed conservation actions may already be familiar, the strategy aims to ensure they are strongly focused and able to make a real difference.

‘There is no simple solution to this major issue and our efforts need to be science based rather than emotional if we are to make a lasting and real difference,” Cr Williams said.

“The koala conservation review process noted Redland City Council had made a substantial investment in a wide range of koala conservation measures over the past eight years.

“Without these measures ranging from expanding, rehabilitating and linking habitat to efforts to provide protection and education to reduce tragic and avoidable deaths from dog attacks and car strikes, it is very likely that the population decline may have been far worse.

Thirteen of the 37 actions within the revised plan are current business as usual, including $670,000 per year for direct koala conservation actions, approximately $4 million allocated annually for beneficial bushland conservation measures and $5.2 million allocated for conservation land acquisitions

“Importantly, we haven’t given up and in some areas we are redoubling our efforts.

“Subject to budget approval, an estimated $3.99 million is expected to be invested over the next five years, including support through government funding, for another 21 identified actions with the plan to be reviewed annually,

“We have fully committed to working with the state government’s expert panel lead by Associate Professor Jonathan Rhodes tasked with making further recommendations to arrest the alarming decline in koala numbers,”. Cr Williams said.

“Where appropriate, we will respond and adapt our own plans based on the findings from the expert panel.

“The revised Council action plan refocuses efforts to better understand the local population including supporting science based research.

“It also acknowledges that saving the koala is a shared responsibility of all levels of government and all communities. Together we can make a difference” Cr Williams said.

“In order to achieve targeted and measurable improvements we need to better understand the real population and this includes support from the community in helping to protect koalas from deadly dog attacks and car strikes and helping to report koala sightings in our urban areas.

“Developing a more realistic understanding of our local population means that supporting actions will have a targeted and realistic focus and better chance of success.

“The plan proposes to reinforce long standing efforts to get the community to change critical driving and dog ownership behaviors that has had a disastrous impact on mainland koalas.”

Action plan priorities identified for the coming year include koala movement monitoring, threat mapping, mapping of wildlife corridors and networks, enhancing nature corridors and safe passage areas, expansion of koala areas including areas under Koala Conservation Agreement Program (KCAP), and embarking on a major information program for residents to  reduce deaths from dogs and cars.

Council has previously agreed to funding for a research trial of a vaccine for the deadly chlamydia virus, and identified plans to enhance the Redland City environment by planting one million native plants over the next four years.