Australia: save the koalas’ forest!
Australia’s koalas need help: the recent loosening of environmental laws has led to a surge in land clearing and habitat destruction. The state of Queensland does not even require permits in many cases. The rampant deforestation needs to stop NOW.
In Queensland, a state in northeastern Australia, land clearing is at a ten-year high. Habitat loss is threatening a dozen plant and nearly one hundred animal species, including Australia’s iconic koala and the cassowary – a large, flightless bird.
The number of koalas has plummeted from an estimated 100,000 to 40,000 in only five years. Once at home in lush forests, many now have to cope with scattered patches of woodland and suburban sprawl. To change trees in sparsely wooded areas, koalas are forced to come down to the ground – where they are vulnerable to attack by dogs or meet their end as roadkill.
“Queensland has once again become a global land-clearing hotspot after its vegetation laws were torn up by the previous state government,” notes biologist April Reside.
In many cases, “self-assessable codes” apply to land clearing, meaning that landholders don’t need a permit – they simply send in the bulldozers and inform the authorities later. While large-scale land clearing for “high-value agriculture” does require a permit, it's questionable whether such clearing is subject to effective oversight.
The state of Queensland will be electing a new government on November 25th. Now is the time to build international pressure and strengthen the position of Australian conservationists.
Please call on Australian policymakers to stand up for the protection of koalas and other iconic species and stop the destruction of their habitat.