Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Tree clearing may have killed 180 koalas in Queensland in two years, says wildlife group

World Wildlife Fund calls for public pressure on the Palaszczuk government to reduce habitat destruction

Joshua Robertson

Thursday 18 May 2017 10.52 BST 

Tree clearing may have killed as many as 180 koalas in south-east Queensland in the two years after the former state government relaxed vegetation protection laws, according to an analysis by the World Wildlife Fund.

The environmental group says a crisis gripping koala populations has its root in a surge in tree clearing given the political green light in both Queensland and New South Wales.

The koala deaths in south-east Queensland, compounding a trend that has wiped out half the koala population statewide in the last two decades, came from the bulldozing of 44 sq km of bushland between mid-2013 and mid-2015, WWF scientist Martin Taylor argues.
The wave of deaths pushed the iconic animal further towards local extinctions in former strongholds, particularly to Brisbane’s north.

They were followed by an ongoing surge in fatal koala injuries from vehicles and dog attacks that has the RSPCA fearing for their long-term survival in the region.

In NSW, there are also fears of local koala populations being wiped out after total numbers fell by an estimated 26% in the past two decades, according to a separate WWF report by University of Queensland academic Christine Adams-Hosking.

The report declared tree clearing, also relaxed by the NSW state government in late 2016, a major factor.

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