The Queensland government has recently released a report finding koala populations, in the south east of the state, have declined by 80%.
According to the ABC ” . . . State Environment Minister Steven Miles has flagged a plan to establish an expert panel to point policy in the right direction.”
Minister Miles is quoted saying: ” . . . I think it’s time for an honest conversation with policy makers but also the public about what we think it will take to protect koalas. The alternative is doing what other governments have done, proclaim a solution then realise it’s not working. We need to determine some new action and it’s very much our intention to begin that in months not years.”
I couldn’t agree more about the need for an honest conversation about koalas. Along those lines, the notion of an expert panel has also been suggested, but is yet to eventuate. In part this may stem from the widely held belief that ‘protecting’ koalas can be achieved merely by stopping logging, even though the evidence proves otherwise.
Another impediment is the notion that re-vegetation will benefit koalas. The graphic above is a breakdown of the Clean Energy Regulator’s third Emissions Reduction Fund auction, held last month.
Locally, the Bega District News ran a story about Far South Coast Landcare, moving into new premises. It referred to one of the organisations long-term projects, ‘the planting of 13,000 trees by children to re-vegetate a river corridor between Gulaga and Biamanga national parks’.
According to coordinator Dean Turner, “ . . . From all the survey work done over the last seven years we’ve got a lot of data about what is needed.” This statement would seem to be code for- ‘we planted the former primary koala feed trees but they didn’t grow’. As I understand it, secondary feed species trees are now being planted, although as soils limitations are not a consideration, there is no information to suggest these trees will either grow or be suitable for koalas.
A major difference between the various state and federal re-vegetation projects would seem to be the level of reporting. For projects that ‘Plant seeds or seedlings on cleared land to establish a permanent forest’, the Clean Energy Regulator requires actual measurements, in combination with computer based ‘Reforestation Modelling Tools’. However, there appears to be no such requirement for federal Bio-fund projects or state government funded projects, even though it is all public money.
It may be a rash and perhaps bold thought, but a consistent approach could be a ‘new action’ that policy makers could try. Of course locally it would require considering whether Forestry’s 1997 koala recovery plan remains the best approach, given it is consistently wrong.