Redlands a priority koala area under state government conservation plan

KOALA PROTECTION: The draft koala conservation strategy was released on Sunday.
KOALA PROTECTION: The draft koala conservation strategy was released on Sunday.

THE state government's draft koala conservation strategy has been released, identifying the Redlands as a priority area for koala protection.

More than 570,000 hectares of land across south-east Queensland - including mainland Redlands suburbs - was identified as a koala priority zone - an area twice the size of the ACT.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the government proposed to implement stronger regulations to limit clearing in these areas of high-quality habitat.

"Ensuring the protection of these large corridors of land will address one of the main causes of a declining koala population, which is the destruction of habitat," she said.

About $2 million will also be invested into habitat restoration for the Redlands and other priority areas.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said koala habitat areas in the strategy were identified using including two decades of koala sighting records, scientific research and existing mapping by local councils.

Koala priority areas were large, connected areas that contain both koala habitat and restoration areas.

Ms Palaszczuk said the draft strategy outlined actions to implement the Koala Expert Panel's six recommendations for protecting koalas, put forward in 2017.

"Particularly as recent bushfires have had a devastating effect on the koala population with animals killed or badly injured, it's never been a more pertinent time to act," she said.

The strategy also quoted the Koala Safe Neighbourhoods initiative - a partnership between Redland City Council and Griffith University - as a successful threat abatement program.

Ms Enoch said the strategy was based on the best available science to protect habitat and give koalas the best chance of survival.

"Koala populations have decreased by 50 to 80 per cent in South East Queensland habitat areas over about 20 years and nearly three quarters of essential koala habitat has already been destroyed," she said.

The release of the draft strategy came about seven months after the Environmental Defenders Office called for urgent intervention of the state government into koala conservation.

The new strategy and mapping can be found at qld.gov.au/seqkoalas. People will have until 31 January 2020 to provide feedback on the draft strategy.