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The main driver of the loss and fragmentation of koala habitat are the weak and permissive laws passed by state, federal and local governments which allow excessive tree-clearing and deforestation. Without the right species of eucalypts and other trees, koalas have no homes or food… Urban growth and infrastructure development in NSW and Qld are contributing to significant ongoing decline of coastal populations… Climate change is making Australia’s normally challenging weather for koalas more extreme by exacerbating droughts, heat stress and bushfires. This kills koalas, whether directly such as by overheating and dehydration, or indirectly by degrading the eucalypt forests they live in… Extended drought across NSW and Queensland has already coincided with a decline in koala numbers, along with habitat losses, which reduces the resilience of populations.” (Paull, D. et al. “Koala Action Plan” WWF-Australia, 2019, p. 6; 10 – See link and more at blog post bottom, below tweets.)

Deforestation, itself, changes climate. Deforestation can be due to logging, mining, farming, and population growth. Why the urban growth and infrastructure development? Population growth due to immigration: “Tony Abbott to call for immigration cut in speech targeting political elites. The former prime minister wants 80,000 fewer immigrants: 110,000 rather than current 190,000 https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/feb/20/tony-abbott-to-call-for-immigration-cut-in-speech-targeting-political-elites


From Common Dreams
Thousands of Koalas Feared Dead in Australia Wildfires
Record wildfires continue: “I think this is the single loudest alarm bell I’ve ever heard on global heating.” by Common Dreams staff Published on Saturday, December 28, 2019

Australia is still on fire.

And now thousands of koalas are feared to have died in a wildfire-ravaged area north of Sydney.

“Up to 30 percent of their habitat has been destroyed,” Environment Minister Sussan Ley told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Friday. “We’ll know more when the fires are calmed down and a proper assessment can be made.” Land clearing and development over time has meant a loss of habitat for the tree-dwelling koalas.

Last year, a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Australia report said there were fewer than 20,000 koalas left in New South Wales and they risked becoming extinct as early as 2050, largely because of “excessive tree-clearing for farming.” Minister Ley said up to 30% of the koalas in the region had been killed in recent days.

Australia has just endured a heatwave that broke records for highest temperature ever for consecutive days. And the fires accelerated on Saturday in the country’s east as temperatures soared.

“I think this is the single loudest alarm bell I’ve ever heard on global heating,” said Kees van der Leun, a director at the American consultancy firm Navigant.

Common Dreams has reported [1] that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attacked environmental activists in a November speech, warning of a “new breed of radical activism” that was “apocalyptic in tone” and pledging to outlaw boycott campaigns that he argued could hurt the country’s mining industry.

“We are working to identify mechanisms that can successfully outlaw these indulgent and selfish practices that threaten the livelihoods of fellow Australians, especially in rural and regional areas,” Morrison said. “New threats to the future of the resources sector have emerged,” he said. “A new breed of radical activism is on the march. Apocalyptic in tone. It brooks no compromise. It’s all or nothing.”

[1] https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/11/02/australian-pm-morrison-pledges-outlaw-climate-boycotts
Common Dreams “is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely“. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/12/28/thousands-koalas-feared-dead-australia-wildfires

According to the 2019 WWF-Australia “Koala Action Plan:

Status of koalas and main threats

The main driver of the loss and fragmentation of koala habitat are the weak and permissive laws passed by state, federal and local governments which allow excessive tree-clearing and deforestation. Without the right species of eucalypts and other trees, koalas have no homes or food.

Koala populations in both New South Wales and Queensland are declining and may face extinction in a few decades.

Between 1990 and 2016, at least 9.6 million hectares of vegetation have been bulldozed in NSW and Qld, including both primary and regrowth forests.

Native forest logging of koala habitat on public lands in NSW is set to increase in scale and magnitude with the passing of the new Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals.

Private native forestry is occurring extensively, though few details are publicly available. Codes of practice have generally had a limited ability to identify important koala habitat or koala usage, with the focus on self-assessment.

Laws and policies for approving major infrastructure projects, mines and state significant development often place protection of koala habitat as a low priority, if at all. Reliance upon offsetting and translocation of koalas to other forests is largely ineffective at preventing population decline.

Urban growth and infrastructure development in NSW and Qld are contributing to significant ongoing decline of coastal populations.

Lack of protected areas that conserve significant koala habitat and major population is still a significant issue in NSW and Qld.” Excerpted from p. 6 of Paull, D., Pugh, D., Sweeney, O., Taylor, M., Woosnam, O. and Hawes, W. 2019. “Koala habitat conservation plan. An action plan for legislative change and the identification of priority koala habitat necessary to protect and enhance koala habitat and populations in New South Wales and Queensland. Report prepared for WWF-Australia and partner conservation organisations“. Published by WWF-Australia, Sydney. https://www.wwf.org.au/ArticleDocuments/353/WWF-Koala%20Habitat%20Conservation%20Plan-Abridged.pdf.aspx

Related: Gonzalez-Astudillo, Viviana et al. “Decline causes of Koalas in South East Queensland, Australia: a 17-year retrospective study of mortality and morbidity.” Scientific reports vol. 7 42587. 20 Feb. 2017, doi:10.1038/srep42587 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5316976/

High-rise buildings cannot be a solution to help prevent sprawl when construction quality is a problem and even high-rise buildings take up space: “Why do cracks keep appearing in high rise buildings in Australiahttps://youtu.be/FbwW3zvaya0

Koala photos released to public domain via wikimedia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koala.JPG