Koala legislation and policy

    Koala conservation protections for South East Queensland

    Development regulations introduced in 2020 protect important areas in which koalas live in South East Queensland (SEQ) by:

    • prohibiting the clearing of koala habitat in koala priority areas
    • regulating the clearing of koala habitat in koala habitat areas via development approvals.

    The regulations and the South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy 2020–2025, are supported by koala habitat mapping.

    The Queensland Government is reviewing the effectiveness of the South East Queensland koala habitat protection framework. More information about the review can be found here: Improving South East Queensland’s koala habitat regulations.

    For information about the current rules for development in koala habitat areas and koala priority areas, keep reading below.

    Rules and regulations for development in koala habitat areas and koala priority areas

    The Queensland Government is responsible for assessing developments that propose the clearing of koala habitat areas outside koala priority areas, against a 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, assessment benchmarks support councils to consider koala conservation within project proposals:

    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:

    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.

    State Supported Infrastructure Koala Conservation Policy

    The State Supported Infrastructure Koala Conservation Policy aims to reduce the impact of government infrastructure projects on koalas and their habitat in South East Queensland and achieve greater koala conservation outcomes in koala priority areas.

    Projects are required to avoid, mitigate and offset impacts to koala habitat, consider the safe movement of koalas and implement sensitive design.

    The State Supported Infrastructure Koala Conservation Policy 2023 (PDF, 354.5KB) (SI Policy) refers to updated koala mapping. The previous version of the Policy (PDF, 315.7KB) applies to projects that received funding prior to April 2023.

    There is a Self-assessment Guideline: Assessment and management of potential impacts on koala habitat arising from state government supported infrastructure projects (PDF, 952.8KB) to support public sector entities delivering projects triggered by the SI Policy.

    For transport infrastructure being delivered on behalf of the Department of Transport and Main Roads, there is a Guideline for Transport Infrastructure: Using Expert Elicitation to determine conservation outcomes for alternate compensatory actions (PDF, 389.2KB) .

    For further support on legislative interpretation of the SI Policy you can contact SEQKoalaStrategy@des.qld.gov.au.

    For public sector entities seeking to provide yearly reporting on infrastructure projects triggered by the SI Policy or seeking to raise an invoice for financial payment of an SI Policy obligation you can contact koala.compliance@des.qld.gov.au.

    To provide an Offset Delivery Plan for a land-based offset or an advanced offset you can contact offsets@des.qld.gov.au.

    For information about specific infrastructure projects contact the relevant Queensland Government department.