Koala legislation and policy

    Update to operational policy – Release of rehabilitated koalas

    Following recommendations from the Koala Advisory Council, the department has reviewed the policy on the release of rehabilitated koalas and the take and release of koalas in imminent danger. This new policy (PDF, 503.1KB) will provide a clear framework for carers, operating under the direction of the SEQ Wildlife Hospital Network to both release rehabilitated koalas into suitable habitat and to intervene where otherwise healthy koalas are in imminent danger.

    To support implementation of the new policy, the department will work collaboratively with SEQ Wildlife Hospital Network members and the RSPCA to develop a detailed Procedural Guide to ensure successful implementation of the policy intent.

    Koala assessable development areas under the Planning Act 2016 (former Koala SPRP mapping)

    The Planning Act 2016 regulates new development including areas of South East Queensland identified as having important koala habitat values, such as the Koala Coast and Pine Rivers areas. The Planning Regulation 2017 (Schedule 10) prohibits the clearing of bushland habitat in these priority koala habitat areas, as well as areas outside the urban footprint to ensure koala habitat remains protected for the long-term.

    The Planning Regulation 2017 provides assessment benchmarks for development in koala habitat areas including requirements to minimise the impact on koala habitat. Depending on the development type and koala habitat type, requirements may include:

    • avoiding, minimising or providing an offset for the clearing of non-juvenile koala habitat trees
    • site design that provides safe koala movement opportunities appropriate to the development type and habitat connectivity values of the site
    • construction phases that do not increase the risk of death or injury to koalas
    • clearing of native vegetation, undertaken as sequential clearing
    • clearing of koala habitat trees, undertaken in the presence of a koala spotter.


    Sources of information and advice

    • Local government is responsible for implementing the assessment benchmarks for development in a koala habitat area in Schedule 11 of the Planning Regulation 2017 and should be contacted for specific advice on applying these to development proposals.

    The Queensland Environmental Offset Policy (PDF, 1.2MB) (offset policy), is used to ensure that environmental offsets for unavoidable impacts on high quality koala habitat, regulated by the Planning Act 2016, contributes to the rehabilitation, establishment and protection of koala habitat.

    An environmental offset is an activity taken to compensate unavoidable negative environmental impacts. An offset differs from mitigation by addressing any remaining impact after all attempts to first avoid and then reduce the impact have been exhausted.

    Where an offset condition has been applied, the offset is to be delivered in accordance with the Queensland Environmental Offsets Framework. This framework clarifies how environmental offsets should be delivered.

    There are a number of specific requirements for koala related offsets, including the requirement that the rehabilitation, establishment and protection of koala habitat is the only activity that can be used to offset koala habitat.

    The offset policy outlines requirements for providing an offset for impacts on koala habitat arising from:

    State Government Supported Infrastructure - Koala Conservation Policy

    The State Government Supported Infrastructure - Koala Conservation Policy (PDF, 325.7KB) outlines how state public sector entities will consider koala conservation outcomes in the planning and delivery of government supported infrastructure projects, like roads, schools and hospitals.

    This policy applies to the planning and delivery of all Queensland Government supported infrastructure activities within the South East Queensland Koala Protection Area. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that State activities not regulated through local government planning schemes or the Planning Act 2016, meet the same requirements, ensuring equitable treatment of State and non-State infrastructure projects.

    Infrastructure project compliance

    It is a requirement under this policy that state infrastructure providers maintain and provide records of self-assessments against this policy for auditing purposes. State infrastructure providers should maintain details of their project and clearing requirements as the department will monitor selected projects to assess compliance with provisions of this policy.

    Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2017 and associated guidelines

    The Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2017 (Koala Plan 2017) commenced on 01 September 2017 as a replacement for the Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2016 which expired on 31 August 2017.

    The Koala Plan 2017 continues providing the same legislative effect as the original instrument with the following changes:

    • Removal of redundant provisions superseded by the planning and development framework
    • Correction of minor administrative errors, such as the local government area names
    • Minor redrafting of provisions to be more succinct and reflect current practice

    The Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2017 (Koala Plan) requires any clearing in certain areas to be undertaken sequentially, and in the presence of a suitably qualified koala spotter. The Koala Plan also prescribes three koala districts (A, B and C) and includes requirements relating to the release of rehabilitation, sick or injured koalas.

    The Koala Conservation Plan map has been prepared for the State to outline the boundary of each of the Koala Districts and is available here.

    Download the Koala Conservation Plan map for:

    Sequential clearing requirements apply to koala districts A and B, and koala spotters are required in koala habitat areas in district A.

    Koala-sensitive Design Guideline: A guide to koala-sensitive design measures for planning and development activities

    The Koala-sensitive Design Guideline: A guide to koala-sensitive design measures for planning and development activities (the KSD guideline) (see availability) provides information for managers, land-use planners, infrastructure providers and development proponents. The guidelines determine and provide:

    • the appropriate measures to help avoid and minimise the impacts of development and land-use planning on koala movement and dispersal
    • information on what may be required to meet the koala assessment benchmarks under the Planning Regulation 2017, in relation to safe koala movement and habitat connectivity. The measures in this guideline do not replace the requirements of the Planning Regulation 2017, particularly in regard to habitat retention. However, they are intended to assist in determining the most suitable outcome for koalas as a result of development or land-use planning.
    • The guideline also provides information on what is needed to manage risks to koalas on site, and provide safe koala movement opportunities.

    Measures in this guideline are based on koala-sensitive design principles that help development:

    • retain and protect koala habitat values in their natural state to allow koalas to feed, rest and move around
    • achieve permeability for koalas through the landscape to ensure the safe movement of koalas within and across a site
    • reduce threats to resident and transient koalas.

    The guideline is to be used to:

    • identify the threats or risks that development has on safe koala movement
    • help identify the appropriate koala safe fencing and measures to avoid and minimise those risks
    • provide principles, techniques and examples for consideration in the planning, design and layout stages of development
    • interpret the SPRP outcomes for connectivity and koala safe movement opportunities.
    Offset site during establishment phase.

    Offset site during establishment phase.

    Large-scale planting project.

    Large-scale planting project.

    Juvenile koala habitat trees protected with guards.

    Juvenile koala habitat trees protected with guards.

    Offsets for State Government supported infrastructure projects

    There are a range of measures in place to protect koala populations in South East Queensland. One of the major safeguards is requiring infrastructure projects to offset any loss of koala habitat—required under the State Government Supported Infrastructure - Koala Conservation Policy.

    Aim of the policy

    This policy has been in place since 2010 and ensures State Government agencies consider koala conservation outcomes in the planning and delivery of government infrastructure such as roads, schools and hospitals.

    State agencies may be required to provide an environmental offset for the loss of bushland koala habitat in South East Queensland.

    Offset options

    State agencies have three options to deliver offsets:

    • Financial settlement
    • Land-based offset (direct replanting of koala habitat trees)
    • Combination of a financial settlement and land-based offset.

    Offset payments enabled properties purchased by the department to be rehabilitated and allowed private landholders to rehabilitate their own properties.

    The department has purchased land of the highest priority for koala conservation in South East Queensland. Offset payments are used to rehabilitate large areas of koala habitat on these properties. Once koala habitat is well established, properties are transferred to a suitable land manager to allow for long-term protection of the habitat.

    The department partnered with landholders to establish koala nature refuges on private land in South East Queensland. The department has funded and manages the habitat restoration projects on these nature refuges.

    After completion the land owner continues to manage the property and the restored area to maximise koala habitat outcomes.

    Available from the library catalogue

    The documents referred to on this page are available from the department’s online library catalogue.