The Australian government has included koalas on the list of endangered species in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the federal territory in which the capital Canberra is located, the greater part of its natural habitat. Koalas, the small marsupial mammals that are among Australia’s best-known animals, have gone from animals considered ‘invulnerable’ to ‘vulnerable’ species within ten years, to the category in which they have just been included, ‘in danger’ organisms: In recent years, their population has decreased dramatically due to habitat loss, and it is estimated that without urgent interventions, they will be able to disappear completely over the next few decades.
Since Friday, koalas have been listed as a “critically endangered” species under criteria set by the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the main legislative reference for the protection of the environment and wildlife in Australia. The decision comes just ten years after the koala was placed on the “vulnerable” species list in May 2012.
Australian Environment Minister Susan Lee He said That the decision was made due to the rapid decline in koala numbers due to climate change, disease and deforestation that was made to create new infrastructure, with the consequent loss of the animals’ natural habitat, but not only.
In the past two decades, the koala population has been threatened by long periods of drought and large summer fires associated with climate change, particularly those occurring in the summer between 2019 and 2020, which due to the scale and severity of the phenomena is known as the “black summer”. The worst population decline appears to be that recorded in New South Wales, because since 2016, when local government weakened vegetation conservation laws, deforestation has increased by 13 times. He writes WWF Australia. In New South Wales alone, it is estimated that intense “black summer” fires have killed up to 5,000 koalas and destroyed a quarter of wildlife habitats.
according tojoint analysis From the International Fund for Animal Welfare, WWF Australia and Humane Society International (HSI), in 2020, the koala population in Queensland was down 50 percent compared to 2001, and in the same period in New Wales in the South it fell by 62 percent.
In all these years, the Australian government has been accused of not doing enough to protect the health of koalas, to the point that according to various scientists and activists, its population is at risk of extinction by 2050.
⚠️ Breakdown: The Australian government has listed East Coast koalas as endangered to endangered.
This is a bittersweet result, but a crucial step toward reversing the decline in koala numbers. #koalas_forever
(short topic) pic.twitter.com/Dvy7EN68Xc
– WWF_Australia (WWF_Australia) February 10 2022
Minister Lee said the new status as an “endangered” species means that the conservation of koalas must be treated with a high priority. Ley ordered a thorough investigation to map wild koala populations in detail and get a better idea of where disease outbreaks are from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), a government agency that deals with scientific research. He then added that the government had committed to investing A$50 million (about €31 million) in conservation and protection projects for this species, and that among other things, future projects of new infrastructure would have to take into account their impact on wildlife.
Ley also said that according to the latest estimates by CSIRO, the koalas currently living in Australia’s east coast regions will number around 180,000. For Deborah Tabart, director of the nonprofit Australia Koala Foundation, the numbers would actually be much lower, less than a third of those reported by the government agency.
talking with ABCrepented He said That according to his organization’s analyzes from 2018 to today, the number of koalas has decreased by 30 percent, data that is in line with those verified by other bodies and scientists. according toAnalytics From the Koala Foundation published last September, in 2018, about 45 thousand to 82 thousand koalas lived in the wild across Australia: in 2021 the organization estimated between 32 thousand and 58 thousand. In any case, the government has predicted that the number of koalas is likely to decline in particular over the next ten years In southeast QueenslandNew infrastructure will be built for the Summer Olympics in Brisbane by 2032.
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