Govt allocates $50m to help protect koalas

Tracey Ferrier |

The federal government will spend an extra $50 million over the next four years to pull east coast koalas back from the brink.

The money will underpin a national koala recovery plan, promised after the devastating 2020 bushfires.

In June last year a federal panel of threatened species experts recommended the marsupial’s status be upgraded from vulnerable to endangered in each of the three jurisdictions.

WWF Australia, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and Humane Society International have long been pushing for the change, saying the iconic species is in desperate need of greater protection if it is to survive.

Koala populations in NSW have declined by between 33 and 61 per cent since 2001 and at least 6400 were killed in the Black Summer bushfires.

In 2020, a NSW parliamentary inquiry found koalas would likely become extinct before 2050 without urgent government intervention to prevent habitat loss.

Queensland’s koala population has dropped by at least 50 per cent since 2001 due to deforestation, drought and bushfires.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the $50 million in funding will go to initiatives including restoring habitat, monitoring populations and boosting research into koala health.

“Koalas are one of Australia’s most-loved and best-recognised icons, both here at home and across the world, and we are committed to protecting them for generations to come,” he told ABC News.