Improved koala mapping for habitat conservation
The Palaszczuk Government is delivering on its commitment to protect koalas, with an extra 190,000 hectares of koala habitat now added to essential habitat mapping.
Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said this new koala habitat mapping follows recommendations from the Koala Expert Panel to better protect koalas in Queensland.
“The science tells us that the biggest threat to Queensland’s koala population is the loss of habitat, and that is why we are taking action,” Ms Enoch said.
The extra koala habitat has been added to the Essential Habitat tool under the Vegetation Management mapping.
The newly appointed Koala Council will be briefed on the next steps of the Koala Conservation Strategy when it meets on 13 December 2018.
How is koala habitat protected through essential habitat mapping?
• Clearing of essential habitat may require an approval under the Planning Act 2016, or the Vegetation Management Act 1999, unless the clearing can be carried out under an exemption.
• An applicant proposing to clear regulated vegetation that contains essential habitat must demonstrate how the clearing has been avoided, or minimised as part of the application. Any clearing that remains, may require an environmental offset under the Environmental Offsets Act 2014.
What additional habitat protection will occur as a result of this update?
• The new koala mapping will result in an increase to the extent of essential habitat that is identified specifically for the koala, but it will not increase the area of regulated vegetation made assessable under the VMA, as the new koala habitat areas occurs within the existing spatial extent of the current regulated vegetation management map. However, the increase of essential habitat for the koala will increase the area of regulated vegetation that may require the provision of environmental offsets.
What does this update mean for local government planning schemes?
• Changes to the Essential Habitat mapping will also result in a change to the Matters of State Environmental Significance maps, identified as ‘MSES Regulated Vegetation (essential habitat)’.
• The State Planning Policy requires local governments to map all MSES in their planning schemes and to ensure that development is located in areas that avoid adverse impacts on these matters.
• Separate work is progressing on developing koala priority area mapping for use in the planning and development approval system for proposals not triggering VMA assessment.
The new mapping is available through the Queensland Globe resource, with more infomation about koala conservation in Queensland available here.
For more information contact LGAQ's Krsity Gooding, Lead - Natural Assets and Natural Resource Management on 07 3000 2257 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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