1 February 2022
The Morrison Government will invest a record $50 million to boost the long-term protection and recovery efforts for Australia’s koalas.
The Prime Minister said the funding would bring together the best of the best researchers, land managers, veterinarians and citizen scientists to protect one of the most special species in the world.
“Our $50 million investment will enhance the protection of koalas by restoring koala habitat, improving our understanding of koala populations, supporting training in koala treatment and care, and strengthening research into koala health outcomes,” the Prime Minister said.
“Koalas are one of Australia’s most loved and best recognised icons, both here at home and across the world, and we are committed to protecting them for generations to come.”
The additional $50 million investment over the next four years includes:
- $20 million for habitat and health protection projects – grants for large-scale activities run by Natural Resource Management and non-government organisations, industry, and Indigenous groups, as well as state and territory governments.
- $10 million for community-led initiatives – grants for local habitat protection and restoration activities, health and care facilities, and citizen science projects
- $10 million to extend the National Koala Monitoring Program – to identify trends over time, increase the number of sites sampled, and support the participation of citizen scientists
- $2 million to improve Koala health outcomes – grants for applied research activities and practical application to address health challenges such as retrovirus, herpesviruses, and chlamydia
- $1 million for Koala care, treatment and triage – expanding and continuing national training for veterinarians and nurses to care for and treat koalas.
This new package will take Morrison Government’s koala investment to more than $74 million since 2019.
Minister Ley said the $50 million package would also provide significant flow on benefits for other native species.
“Importantly, the extra funding will build on work already happening across the koala range to restore and connect important habitat patches, control feral animal and plant species, and improve existing habitat,” Minister Ley said.
“Current funding is already supporting eight strategic habitat restoration projects that target thousands of hectares in significant koala areas in Eastern Australia.
“Dedicated teams are working side-by-side with landholders and using drone and Artificial Intelligence technology to seed habitat, with another two projects to begin soon.
“Research is underway to reduce the disease threat facing many animals including a world first genome sequencing program to determine the genetic strength of populations and how unique DNA variants can provide resistance to diseases such as chlamydia.
“More than 3,200 vets and veterinary nurses have received specialist bushfire trauma training, with new programs to be funded as we continue to work with major zoos to support research and treatment.
“Our $200 million bushfire response has provided a catalyst for science based, long term initiatives to help native species and highlights the particular importance of protecting our most iconic animals, and the Koala is clearly one of those.”
The Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace welcomed the announcement.
“Whenever Australians think about the Sunshine Coast, they think about our beaches, our lush hinterland, and the native plants and animals that live here,” Mr Wallace said. “Like me, I know that the Morrison Government is determined to see that unique environment protected.
“With the Federal Government’s support, Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital is one of the busiest facilities of its kind in the world and is renowned for its treatment and rehabilitation of injured koalas. I am sure that with this important announcement dedicated Australians like the Irwins all over the country, will be able to do even more to preserve our native wildlife.”
© Commonwealth of Australia 2022
Wildlife Queensland commends the Federal Government for its recent apparent interest in the environment and its wildlife, caring for the Great Barrier Reef, and research into the impact of bushfires on wildlife, but is mystified why it has not developed an aggressive policy to battle climate change. However, we welcome the additional funding for koala conservation and recognise the ongoing need for increased protection for koala habitat.
To find out about the challenges faced by Queensland’s koalas and how you can get involved in citizen science initiatives on iNaturalist to help survey and save them, watch Wildlife Queensland & Logan City Council’s recent webinar: Are You Koalafied?