Despite prolonging the uncertainty, the announcement of a further 10 week extension to Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke’s decision on koalas may be worth the wait.
According to Burke’s press release he agrees “ . . . about the need to treat populations differently in different parts of Australia but am seeking further advice on whether there are more precise habitat boundaries than simply adopting state boundaries. I’ve asked the Committee to come back to me with more precise boundaries which detail the areas where koala populations are dwindling.”
While the proposal to treat populations differently may not go down too well with, for example, the Australian Koala Foundation, the Office of Environment and Heritage, Forests NSW etc., it may differentiate between the translocated ‘island koalas’ around Numeralla and the remaining endemic koalas on the coast.
Clearly a decision on state boundaries could not account for this difference and would also leave the Strzelecki koalas locked into the appalling management they have endured.
The issue is what criteria the Threatened Species Scientific Committee will use to achieve ‘more precise boundaries’. Only a few members of the TSSC have experience with arboreal marsupials and the survival and recovery of koalas is dependent on a scientific approach to environmental management that is not consistent with the Regional Forest Agreements.
Of course, even if the outcome is a positive one, other uncertainties are what the State government will do and groups like SERCA who, while opposed to native forest logging, are yet to acknowledge the other threats or endorse an approach to management that is different to what the RFAs specify.