The Australian government has officially listed the koala as an endangered species after its numbers declined due to land clearing and catastrophic bushfires that are shrinking its habitat.
Environment Minister Suzanne Ley has accepted the recommendation of the scientific committee on endangered species that the conservation status of koala populations in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory should be improved.
The stronger listing is a recognition that the koala’s plight has become more urgent and that successive Australian governments have failed to change the plight of the much-loved animal since it was listed as vulnerable in 2012.
A young koala clings to its mother who is up a gum tree at Taronga Zoo
‘Drop in the ocean’: government’s promise of $50m for koalas won’t tackle root cause of population decline
This comes after the Morrison government last month announced $50 million to help the species. The funding was welcomed by conservation organizations but was described as a “drop in the ocean” if the root causes of the species’ decline were not addressed.
Lee said that in addition to listing the koala as an endangered species, the government plans to adopt a long-awaited national recovery plan for the species.
“Today I am increasing protections for koalas in New South Wales, the ACT and Queensland by listing them as threatened rather than the previous vulnerable species list,” Lee said.