Koalas now listed as 'vulnerable'
CONSERVATIONISTS hope a decision to list koalas as threatened will increase legal protection for the iconic marsupial.
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has announced koalas in NSW, Queensland and the ACT will now be considered 'vulnerable' under federal law.
The koala joins 55 other mammals listed as vulnerable, including the humpback whale and Australian sea lion.
Friends of The Koala president Lorraine Vass said it's an important step towards saving koala populations in Northern NSW.
"This national recognition is a real achievement because the koala is our iconic fauna species and there are populations in real trouble," Ms Vass said.
Developers will have to respond to the legislation on koalas when making building applications.
The decision follows an assessment which found koala numbers have dropped by 40% in Queensland and by a third in NSW over the past two decades.
The government has also committed $300,000 to find out more about koala habitat.
Ms Vass said more funding is needed to create wildlife corridors and prevent disease.
"I would hope to goodness this national acknowledgement might open a few doors as far as research is concerned because we do have a high incidence of diseased animals on the Northern Rivers."
The threatened species announcement follows a call by Lismore's deputy mayor Isaac Smith for the town to proclaim itself the koala capital of Australia.
Cr Smith said Gunnedah claims the title but its koala population is in decline.
"Lismore has the highest population of urban koalas in Australia so we really are a leader in that regard," Cr Smith said.
"Gunnedah ... are really struggling to maintain their population so I hope this change to the nationally threatened species list will help them protect their koalas."
Is Lismore the koala capital of Australia? Leave a comment below or SMS 0428 264 948.