Hard to bear: Nation’s most beloved native animal now listed as endangered

Koalas will be listed as endangered, instead of vulnerable, across NSW, Queensland and the ACT in a bid to protect dwindling populations.

Feb 11, 2022, updated Feb 11, 2022

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley will on Friday announce the listing downgrade in line with a recommendation from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee.

“The impact of prolonged drought, followed by the Black Summer bushfires, and the cumulative impacts of disease, urbanisation and habitat loss over the past twenty years have led to the advice,” she said.

Ley wants Queensland, NSW and Victoria to sign up for a national recovery plan worth $50 million over four years.

The federal government believes the endangered listing will highlight and help address threats to koala populations.

“We are taking unprecedented action to protect the koala, working with scientists, medical researchers, veterinarians, communities, states, local governments and Traditional Owners,” Ley said.

Since 2001, koala populations in NSW declined by between 33 and 61 per cent. At least 6400 died during the 2019/20 bushfires.

In 2020, a NSW parliamentary inquiry warned the marsupial would likely become extinct before the middle of the century without urgent intervention.

Queensland koala populations were found to have at least halved since 2001 because of drought, fires and deforestation.

The federal government is listing the marsupial as endangered while it continues to fight attempts to downgrade the Great Barrier Reef’s UNESCO listing to “in danger”.

The government does not believe the two can be compared and argues the reef shouldn’t be singled out because climate change is threatening all World Heritage sites.

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