The Federal government has announced that $50 million will be put towards Koala conservation as the marsupial population continues to decrease amid the after affects of the 2020 bushfires.
According to the Australian Geographic, there has been a 30 per cent decline in the Koala population with figures estimated to be between 32,000-58,000 nationally. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the investment would be put towards “restoring koala habitat, improving our understanding of koala populations, supporting training in koala treatment and care and strengthening research into koala health outcomes”.
University of the Sunshine Coast Research Fellow and Director of Detection Dogs for Conservation Romane Cristescu said that the $50 million investment by the government is appreciated.
“Any investment for threatened species in general, and koalas in particular, is very much needed and welcomed,” she told NewsCop
“Restoring habitat also positively impacts other species, so that’s a useful use of the budget,”
“$50 million will definitely help koalas, but investment in supporting koalas, and other threatened species, through the numerous challenges they currently face, needs to be long term to be successful, so we are hoping to see this type of funding continuing.”
While Ms Romane hopes that things can continue to improve, Research Fellow and expert on Koala Ecology at the University of Queensland Dr Bill Ellis told NewsCop that he’s more sceptical about the announcement.
“I have been working on koala conservation since the 1980s and have seen multiple announcements, generally coinciding with election years, and little positive change on the ground in that time, so I do have some reservations and consider the environmental credentials of the current government to be very poor indeed,” he said.
“I guess my point is that we are well aware of the pressures on koalas and what really needs to be done to ensure their future.”
However, Dr Ellis pointed out many ways the government can take some serious action in helping to safekeep the future of the Koala population.
“I think the money would be well spent slowing or stopping habitat destruction now, because restoration for koala habitat takes a long time and while vital for the long term, at the current rate of clearing the koalas will run out of habitat before any new locations come “on line”,”
“What would be most useful would be for these funds to support a scheme that encourages private landholders to retain and enhance the in-situ habitat across Queensland (and elsewhere) and connect the fragments that remain,”
“Further funding to support the development of safe habitat and travel zones for koalas in the urban landscape, such as proper road design and concessions for developers to produce landscapes that are safe for koalas while meeting the demands of urban development (that funds local councils) would also be a simple approach,”
“If the funds are directed towards programs that change attitudes toward environmental stewardship, encourage sustainable practices with benefits to multiple species and address the main drivers of koala population decline now, then it will be money well spent.”