Draft SEQ Koala Conservation Strategy 2019-2024

The Queensland Government has announced plans to increase the protection of the koala habitat land and address the threats impacting the SEQ koala population through a new landmark koala strategy, known as the Draft South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy 2019-2024.  Given the recent bushfire devastation across Queensland, as well as the prolonged drought and deforestation, there have been growing fears for the decline of the koala population and the possibility of the species becoming functionally extinct.
The Koala Habitat mapping, associated with the proposed strategy, has identified more than 570,000 hectares of land to be declared Koala Priority Areas (KPA). This will prohibit clearing of koala habitats as well as identifying strategic areas where habitats can be revegetated. Of this, more than 300,000 hectares is core habitat where clearing will be more tightly regulated.
Key Changes
  • Priority Koala Assessable Development Areas (PKADA), Koala Assessable Development Areas (KADA) and Identified Koala Broad-Hectare Areas (IKBHA) under the Koala State Planning Regulatory Provisions (SPRP) replaced by KPA;
  • Mapping of Koala bushland habitats and koala rehabilitation areas have been replaced by Koala Habitat Areas (KHA);
  • Tighter restrictions on land clearing in large interconnected areas of high-quality koala habitat areas, inside and outside of the urban footprint. In particular, clearing of mapped koala habitat areas within KPA will be prohibited with some exceptions remaining. Development that does not result in clearing of koala habitat within KPA will be undertaken by Local Government to ensure development is consistent with koala conservation;
  • Development that does not involve clearing mapped koala habitat within a KPA will trigger development assessment by local government using new assessment benchmarks;
  • Development outside KPA that will involve clearing mapped koala habitat will trigger State Assessment Referral Agency (SARA) consideration;
  • New State Code in the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP) to be introduced to assess clearing of koala habitat outside of KPA and for an extractive industry in a key resource area in a KPA;
  • Impacts to koala habitats should first be avoided and if not then minimized. Environmental offsets will only be considered if impacts cannot be avoided or minimized, and if there is a significant residual impact. It is anticipated that the Queensland Environmental Offsets Policy (QEOP) will be amended to reflect these changes to the planning framework;
  • Buffers to KHA within and outside of KPA to prevent incompatible development and fragmentation of koala habitat (may be at least a 50 m buffer of buildings, structures and works from the edge of a koala habitat);
  • Urban area and urban purpose exemptions for clearing likely to be repealed and replaced by a 500m2 per lot exemption;
  • A strategic assessment under EPBC Act for SEQ is being considered;
  • Vegetation Management Act 1999 is not proposed to be amended.
icubed consulting will be lodging a submission to the Queensland Government during the consultation phase of the strategy (open until the 31st January 2020). For more details on the strategy, go to https://environment.des.qld.gov.au/wildlife/animals/living-with/koalas/conservation/draft-seq-koala-strategy
icubed’s experienced environmental planners and ecological team can work hand in hand with you to understand the impacts of these proposed koala conservation controls on your development, and work towards mitigating complex problems in an innovative and value adding way.
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