Koala legislation and policy

    New koala conservation protections for South East Queensland

    The Queensland Government has amended the planning framework to address a key threat to koala populations in South East Queensland—loss of habitat.

    The new koala conservation planning framework commenced on 7 February 2020 and introduced koala priority areas, which are large, connected areas that include koala habitat areas as well as areas that are suitable for habitat restoration.

    The new planning framework implements strict new clearing restrictions, prohibiting clearing of koala habitat areas within koala priority areas.

    The Nature Conservation and Other Legislation (Koala Protection) Amendment Regulation amended 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 Queensland Government has assumed responsibility for assessing developments that propose the clearing of koala habitat areas outside koala priority areas, against a new State code for Development in South East Queensland Koala Habitat Areas. Further information is available in this guideline (PDF, 2.2MB) to support proponents in addressing the requirements of the State Code.

    For proposed developments that don’t involve clearing of koala habitat areas but are within koala priority areas, the Queensland Government has developed new assessment benchmarks that will support councils to consider koala conservation within project proposals:

    Certain exemptions 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.

    The full list of exemptions are listed under the definition of ‘exempted development’ in Schedule 24 of the Planning Regulation 2017. The following information sheets outline the exemptions that may apply for certain purposes on different land tenures:

    These koala conservation protections, and the South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy 2020–2025, are supported by new koala habitat mapping.

    The following factsheets provide landholders with information regarding the new koala conservation protections:

    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 the 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 (PDF, 5.2MB) (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.

    Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan

    There are a number of independent clearing requirements prescribed in the Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2017 (Koala Conservation Plan). Unlike the requirements in the Planning Regulation 2017, which are in place to protect koala habitat, the requirements in the Koala Conservation Plan are in place to prevent koalas being injured or killed during clearing. These requirements are outlined in the Information sheet – Koala conservation plan clearing requirements .

    Please note: These requirements apply irrespective of any approval or exemption provided under other pieces of legislation.