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Koalas are now listed as Endangered species on the EPBC Act

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The Australian iconic species have been listed as endangered by the Australian government under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act 1999). The Federal Minister of Environment, Sussan Ley accepted the recommendation from the threatened species scientific committee that the koala populations of the east coast – New South Wales, Queensland, and Australian Capital Territory (ACT), be moved from Vulnerable listing to Endangered.

The iconic animal species have been generally affected by droughts, bushfires, endemic disease spread land clearing for urbanization, agriculture, mining, and forestry which has caused habitat loss over the past twenty years.

It is estimated that the black summer bushfires of 2019-2020 killed about 5000 koalas and affected 24% of their habitats in NSW alone. A worldwide fund for Nature study estimated that more than 60,000 koalas were killed or injured in the said bushfires when flames burned nearly more than 17 million hectares. A report by the Australian koala foundation which was released in September 2021 estimated the number of koalas left in the wild to be between 32,065 and 57,920, therefore the need for additional protection.

Sussan Ley stated the endangered listing will ensure priority protection of koala and ensure further assessment of land development applications for significant impacts on the species. The Koala species have moved from no-listing on the EPBC Act, to being listed as Vulnerable in 2012, and now Endangered in 2022, which is shocking to conservation scientists that the decline occurred within a decade. Although, environment groups welcomed the decision, they said it should have happened earlier than now because it seems like the species are rapidly declining or rather, heading towards extinction. Conservationists also say the new listing of koala species would encourage people to do the right thing to protect koalas when they need to.

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