Koala legislation and policy
New koala conservation protections for South East Queensland
A 2015 report on the status of koalas in coastal South East Queensland (SEQ) found that despite existing protection strategies, koala numbers have decreased by 50–80% in key habitat areas over the last 20 years (Rhodes et al. 2015).
In response to that, and recommendations of the Koala Expert Panel the Queensland Government has amended the planning framework to address a key threat to koala populations in South East Queensland – loss of habitat.
The Nature Conservation and Other Legislation (Koala Protection) Amendment Regulation commenced on 7 February 2020 and amends the Environmental Offsets Regulation 2014, Planning Regulation 2017, Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2017 and Vegetation Management Regulation 2012 to provide increased protection to koala habitat areas in South East Queensland.
The new planning framework implements strict new clearing restrictions, prohibiting clearing of koala habitat areas within Koala Priority Areas.
The State Government will assume responsibility for assessing development proposing clearing of koala habitat areas outside Koala Priority Areas, against a new State code for Development in South East Queensland Koala Habitat Areas. A guideline to support proponents in addressing the requirements of the State Code is available here.
For proposed developments that don’t involve clearing of koala habitat but are within Koala Priority Areas, the Queensland Government has developed new assessment benchmarks that will support local governments to consider koala conservation within project proposals:
Certain exemptions will apply to the koala habitat area planning protections, including:
- for certain types of development
- for necessary activities such as emergency response, removal of dangerous trees and the creation or maintenance of firebreaks adjacent to infrastructure
- a once-off 500m2 allowance per premises
- for clearing in accordance with relevant Assessable Development Vegetation Clearing Codes under the Vegetation Management Act 1999.
For more information, and the full list of exemptions, see Schedule 24 of the Planning Regulation 2017.
The department has released several factsheets to provide landholders with information regarding the new koala conservation protections:
- Koala conservation – planning protections
- Koala conservation – exemptions
- Koala conservation – offsets
- Koala conservation – mapping
Specific requirements for koala-related offsets
The Queensland Environmental Offset Policy is used to ensure that environmental offsets for unavoidable impacts on high quality koala habitat, regulated by the Planning Act 2016, contribute to the rehabilitation, establishment and protection of koala habitat.
The Queensland Environmental Offsets Policy has been updated to align with new koala conservation protections, and the policy intent of the South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy.
Koala-sensitive design guideline
The Koala-sensitive design guideline: a guide to koala-sensitive design measures for planning and development activities (the KSD guideline) provides information for managers, land-use planners, infrastructure providers and development proponents.
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.