What is the New South Wales Government doing?
The Hon. Matt Kean, Minister for Energy and Environment, July 2020
The New South Wales Government is committed to ensuring koalas survive in the wild for generations to come. The New South Wales Koala Strategy has been developed to support this vision. The strategy sets out actions to help stabilise and increase koala populations across New South Wales, with $44.7 million committed to supporting a range of conservation actions over three years.
Download a copy of the New South Wales Koala Strategy.
Saving our Species (SoS) is a state-wide program that aims to secure threatened plants and animals in the wild in New South Wales. The Saving our Species Iconic Koala Project is delivering strategic on-ground conservation actions at both a local and state-wide scale, as part of the New South Wales Koala Strategy. Find out more about Saving our Species and the SoS Iconic Koala Project.
The Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan (the Plan) is one of the largest strategic conservation plans to be undertaken in Australia and is the first strategic biodiversity certification to be undertaken under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
The Plan will contribute to the Western Parkland City by supporting the delivery of housing, jobs and infrastructure while protecting important biodiversity such as threatened plants and animals.
Creating wildlife corridors and expanding habitat is crucial for the koala’s survival. This project is a great example of how you and your community can get together and make a significant difference to this Aussie icon.
Koalas are often found in coastal forests on fertile soils. But research by Science for Wildlife has found koalas living on sandy soils and escarpments in the Blue Mountains. At these high altitudes, koalas are often found covered in snow!
The devastating 2019-20 fires had a significant impact on the small but resilient colonies of koalas on the NSW south coast. There have been some positive koala sightings after the fire and work now begins to protect these survivors with the help of aboriginal knowledge and cultural burning practices.
Weeds are nature’s pests, as any keen gardener will tell you. And for koalas, nasty weeds can change a healthy habitat site with trees to climb into a place that threatens their existence.
The NSW Koala Strategy is working with the Lions Club on a new education program targeting school children to inspire them to create projects to save koalas.
In the wake of the summer bushfires, Clarence Valley Council (near Coffs Harbour) partnered with the NSW Koala Strategy on projects to harness community resources and support habitats and individual koalas.
Since 2015 Tweed Council has benefitted from state government funding under the NSW Koala Strategy to support projects to identify and establish new koala habitats.
Bushfires have been top-of-mind for koala conservationists and concerned public since last summer’s event devastated valuable habitat and destroyed thousands of precious koalas.
The Koala Health Hub at Sydney University developed standardised protocols for the collection, analysis and reporting of koala disease samples. These new protocols guide the collection of high-quality samples for disease research. The aim is to maximise research benefits from any interaction with koalas.
The Bongil Bongil National Park project is a prime example of how an ongoing commitment to remove weeds and plant food trees can help koalas thrive.
There is still much to learn about the elusive koala. For an animal that is so iconic and beloved, surprisingly little is known about its habits. Popular belief is that they are slow and simple creatures content to drowse up a tree all day – but is there more to their lives?
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) has launched a new app that allows members of the public, tourists, researchers, rangers and conservation groups to record details of koala sightings in the wild, to help improve the information available about where koalas are, nearby risks and how to conserve them.
Download from the Apple App Store
Download from the Google Play Store
DPIE is funding local on-ground actions to manage and mitigate threats such as dog attack and wildfire in core koala habitat.
Read the NSW Koala Strategy Annual Report for 2019 for more details.
Development of a state-wide profile of koala disease in New South Wales using existing information and new data from the field.
Release and GPS tracking of five rehabilitated koalas from the Limeburners Creek National Park fires of January 2018. Koala movements, habitat usage and home range were monitored for over three months.
Habitat restoration (including more than 2000 trees) at two priority sites at the Tweed Coast and Bongil Bongil National Park.
A core pillar of the strategy is the safety and health of koala populations. The strategy commits $3.3 million to fix priority road kill hotspots across New South Wales.
Picton Road in Wollondilly is the first hotspot to be addressed under the strategy. New fencing to complement existing structures is helping to prevent koalas getting on to the road. Variable message signage has also been installed to educate drivers of the risks to the koalas in the area.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) is also working with Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), local councils and the community to identify additional priority road kill hotspots and effective mitigation responses.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) has developed a state-wide koala habitat information base. The information base uses the best available data on koala distribution, koala preferred trees and koala sightings.
The key layers in the information base are a regionalised list of tree species used by koalas, a map of the likelihood a koala will occur, and a predictive models of koala habitat suitability and koala tree suitability.
View the data sets on the SEED Portal.
The Koala Likelihood Map is a useful tool to predict the likelihood of koalas occurring across New South Wales. The map is already being used to aid in the regulation of native forestry on public land (the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval).
In 2019, DPIE is running a state-wide survey program aimed at updating the data that informs the map, which will allow us to better identify priority sites for action. The program will involve:
Under the New South Wales Koala Strategy, the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) is undertaking research on how koalas respond to intensive native forestry on North Coast State Forests. NRC is appointing experienced researchers to oversee this work and will commence this research in 2019. Further information can be found at www.nrc.nsw.gov.au/koala-research.
DPI Forest Science also has an ongoing program of scientific research into the impacts of forestry operations on koalas.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) is developing a state-wide koala monitoring program that will be an essential part of determining the effectiveness of the koala strategy and its actions. The program will monitor koalas at 3 spatial scales (state, regional and local) and will aim to incorporate existing monitoring projects within an adaptive monitoring framework.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) has developed a koala research plan, which identifies priority knowledge gaps that need to be addressed. The research plan has been developed through a facilitated expert elicitation workshop, followed by a koala research symposium. At the workshop koala experts were asked to consider threats to koalas and how gaps in our knowledge are limiting our ability to make clear management and conservation decisions regarding the threats. The results of the workshop formed the basis of the 10-year research plan. The plan will be reviewed at a research symposium held every 2 years.
Grants have been awarded to 10 projects, with a total value of $1.93 million. The projects are listed on the DPIE website.
The remaining allocated funds will be spent in future years following the next koala research symposium in 2020.
The Koala Habitat Suitability Map is a useful tool to predict the likelihood of koala habitat occurring across northern New South Wales. The map was originally prepared by DPI Forestry and funded in part by the EPA to assist in the regulation of native forestry on public and private land.
Explore the data on the Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) online map viewer.
The New South Wales Government provides a range of funding for landholder and community grants and voluntary private land acquisition. The Australian Government also funds conservation in New South Wales.
The Biodiversity Conservation Act is the New South Wales Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a regulatory framework for threatened species conservation and assessing and offsetting impacts on biodiversity.
The Code of Practice for Injured, Sick and Orphaned Koalas (the Code) is intended for everyone authorised to rescue, rehabilitate and release koalas. The Code contains both standards and guidelines for the care of koalas and is designed to be read in conjunction with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Code of Practice for Injured, Sick and Orphaned Protected Fauna.
Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) are 20-year bilateral agreements made between the Commonwealth and state governments.
There are three RFAs in New South Wales that cover the Eden, north east and southern regions. RFAs aim to provide for a Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative (CAR) reserve system, the ecologically sustainable management and use of forested areas, and long-term stability for forest-based industries. RFAs require New South Wales to implement a range of statutory and non-statutory programs and actions for the protection of threatened species and habitats. In New South Wales this is delivered though recovery plans, threat abatement plans, the Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals and the Private Native Forestry Codes of Practice.
Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs) set out rules to protect native animals, native plants, important habitat and ecosystems, soils and water during native forestry operations on state forests and other Crown-timber lands. They prescribe rules for identifying and managing koala habitat to manage the potential impacts of native forest harvesting on important koala habitat across the landscape.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is responsible for monitoring compliance with the IFOAs, and undertaking associated enforcement activities.
A comprehensive forest monitoring and improvement framework is currently being established to support the IFOAs and will have a focus on koala management and conservation.
Harvesting timber on private land requires approval through a private native forestry plan (PNF Plan) and compliance with rules set by four private native forestry codes of practice (PNF Codes).
The PNF Codes set out the minimum requirements to ensure that ecologically sustainable forest management is implemented and measures are put in place to mitigate impacts on plants, animals, soil and water. They prohibit PNF occurring within core koala habitat (defined by State Environment Planning Policy No. 44) and prescribe rules for identifying and managing koala habitat to manage the potential impacts of native forest harvesting on important koala habitat.
A PNF Plan is a legally binding agreement between a landholder and Local Land Services (LLS). The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is responsible for monitoring compliance with the PNF Plan and relevant PNF Codes of Practice, and undertaking associated enforcement activities.
The State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2021 (“Koala SEPP 2021”) aims to reverse the decline of koala populations by ensuring koala habitat is properly considered during the development assessment process and to provide a process for councils to strategically manage koala habitat through the development of koala plans of management.
Changes to the Land Services (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2020 were considered by Parliament in November 2020. The NSW Government subsequently replaced Koala SEPP 2019 with the State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2020 (Koala SEPP 2020) as an interim measure.
On 8 March 2021, the NSW Government announced a new koala habitat policy framework to protect koalas and their habitat and the interests of farmers. The State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2021 (Koala SEPP 2021) commenced on 17 March 2021.
A range of local councils have developed Comprehensive Koala Plans of Management under the previous SEPP 44:
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has also produced a Koala Recovery Strategy.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important animals, plants, ecological communities and heritage places — defined in the EPBC Act as matters of national environmental significance.
The combined koala populations of New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory were listed as Vulnerable on 2 May 2012.
The EPBC Act referral guidelines for the vulnerable koala provide guidance under the EPBC Act for anyone proposing actions that may harm koalas in relevant states and territories. The guidelines do not provide guidance on requirements under state and local government laws.