Further evidence Australia’s environment laws are failing our threatened species.
In response to revelations that the Federal Government approved two proposals to clear a total of 75 hectares of koala habitat for housing estates in south-east Queensland, Andrew Picone, Nature Campaigner with the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), said:
“The Federal Government is failing to protect the koala, a much-loved species that is known around the world as uniquely Australian.
“Experts believe koalas could be pushed to extinction in Queensland. But new documents obtained by ACF through a Freedom of Information request show the Federal Government continues to approve the bulldozing of koala habitat even while conceding the proponents’ planned offsets don’t meet policy standards.”
(When a project proponent is given permission to destroy wildlife habitat on the condition that equivalent bushland is protected somewhere else, this is known as an ‘offset’.)
“In both these cases the Federal Environment Department acknowledged the planned offsets were inadequate, yet it approved the destruction of bushland anyway, relying on the flawed reasoning that the decision was consistent with existing housing projects nearby, which also did not meet policy standards for offsets.
“This is further evidence Australia’s environment laws are failing our threatened species.
“Australia has the dubious distinction of being the world leader on mammal extinctions and having a terrible record on protecting biodiversity, with more than 7.4 million hectares of threatened species habitat – an area larger than Tasmania – destroyed in the last 20 years.
“Meanwhile, our national environment budget has been slashed by 39.7 per cent since 2013.
“In the midst of an extinction crisis we can no longer entertain the fantasy that it’s OK to destroy precious wildlife habitat so long as we promise not to destroy bushland somewhere else.
“Under current standards Australians cannot be confident that offsets are providing adequate conservation outcomes for this special Australian species.
“ACF urges the Federal Government to adopt an immediate moratorium on its approval of the clearing of further koala habitat to help ensure the species’ survival.
“In coming weeks there is also a significant opportunity with the release of the Palaszczuk Government’s South East Queensland koala strategy, which must lead to the permanent protection of priority habitat for such an iconic Australian species.”