Koalas Have Officially Been Listed As Endangered, But The Govt Still Won’t Address The Root Cause


It is a Bad Day because the Australian government has officially listed koalas as endangered, instead of vulnerable, after land clearing and the 2019-20 megafires dramatically dented the population. 

Environment Minister Sussan Ley is due to announce the listing downgrade after she accepted a recommendation from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee.

The committee pointed to dwindling populations in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

The population of koalas in NSW have declined by as much as 61 per cent since 2001. At least 6,400 in the state died during the 2019-20 bushfires.

A 2020 NSW parliamentary inquiry found the species would be extinct in that state by 2050 unless governments took urgent action to protect its habitat. 

The Wildlife, Ecosystems and Habitat Bushfire Recovery Taskforce estimated up to 90 percent of Kangaroo Island’s famous koala population perished in the megafires, with only 5,000 to 10,000 koalas left from an original population of about 60,000.

In Queensland koala populations have at least halved since 2001 due to drought, fires and deforestation.

Koalas were listed as vulnerable in 2012 but governments have failed to do anything to halt the population decline, leading to the downgrade to endangered. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $50m national recovery plan for koalas last month for habitat restoration, population monitoring and research into animal health.

But environment groups said the funding over four years was a “drop in the ocean” as it did not address the cause of the population decline. 

Regional director at the International Fund for Animal Welfare Rebecca Keeble told Guardian Australia patience had worn thin among koala conservationists.

“We need to understand what the strategy is to save this species and what that’s going to cost because $50m is just a drop in the ocean,” she says.

“Without addressing the root cause of their decline, which is habitat loss and climate change, we’re just plugging holes in a sinking ship.”

The government has also continued to fight UNESCO’s attempts to downgrade the Great Barrier Reef’s status to “in danger”.