Nature conservation

Native animals

Koala Strategy: frequently asked questions

Why has the Chief Scientist & Engineer written a report about koalas?

In March 2016 the NSW Government asked the Chief Scientist & Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane AC, to conduct an independent review into the decline of koala populations in key areas of NSW. An advisory committee supported the review, with representatives from; Office of Environment and Heritage, Environment Protection Authority, Department of Planning and Environment, Roads and Maritime Services, Department of Primary Industries , Department of Industry and koala experts from; Australian Museum, University of Sydney and University of Queensland.

Read the Chief Scientist & Engineers' full report and supporting papers.

What does the Chief Scientist & Engineer's report tell us about koalas in NSW?

The Chief Scientist & Engineer's report makes 11 recommendations to help stabilise and start to increase koala numbers in NSW. The main recommendation is for the NSW Government to develop a whole-of-government koala strategy for NSW based on the principles of action, ongoing monitoring and continuous learning.

Read the Chief Scientist & Engineer's 11 recommendations.

Why is a whole-of-government koala strategy needed?

Koalas are one of Australia's most iconic animals, recognisable around the world. However, koala populations are under increasing pressure. Despite a range of regulations, recovery programs, strategies and numerous community initiatives overall koala numbers in NSW are in decline.

Koalas were listed as vulnerable by the NSW government in 1992 and three koala populations have been listed as endangered. The combined koala populations of Queensland, NSW and the Australian Capital Territory were listed as vulnerable by the Commonwealth in 2012. A study in 2012 estimated that NSW had around 36,000 koalas and that koala numbers had declined by 26% over the past three koala generations (15-21 years) and will probably continue to decline at the same rate over the next three generations unless action is taken.

A whole-of-government NSW koala strategy will outline the actions needed to stabilise and then start to increase koala numbers. The strategy will identify who is responsible for each action, the timeframe, funding and what the NSW Government needs to measure to check if the actions have worked.

What will be included in the strategy?

The Chief Scientist & Engineer has made 11 recommendations on what a whole-of-government NSW koala strategy needs to address. Read the Chief Scientist & Engineer's 11 recommendations.

From 4 December 2016 to 3 March 2017 the Office of Environment and Heritage invited input from the public on what to include in a whole-of-government NSW koala strategy. Members of the community and stakeholder groups were invited to tell us what action, or research, they think needs to be undertaken to stabilise and then start to increase koala numbers in NSW.

How are members of the public contributing to the proposed koala strategy?

The community's feedback on what should be included in the strategy is vital to building a strong strategy. To support community engagement in this process, OEH ran seven community information sessions during February 2017, hosted a virtual community information webinar and invited written submissions. The written submissions closed on 3 March 2017.

Members of the public were also invited to share local koala experiences through the Koalas in NSW social pinpoint platform. You can view the comments made on the site.

How can I learn more about the koala strategy process?

In addition to the regional community information sessions, an online information session was held on Thursday 2 February 2017. It includes information about the Koala Strategy development process, Saving our Species Iconic Koala Project and the review of the State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) 44 - koala habitat protection. You can watch it here:

What will happen to my submissions?

The public submission period closed on 3 March 2017.The Office of Environment and Heritage is reviewing all the submissions received and will summarise the information into a report. This will be presented to the Minister for the Environment and inform the development of the strategy.

How does this review relate to the State Environment Planning Policies (SEPP) 44 review?

In 2015, the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) announced a review of its State Environment Planning Policies. The review process is intended to modernise, simplify and improve the effectiveness and usability of these policies.

The review provides an opportunity to improve the conservation outcome for koalas by updating and improving the operation of SEPP 44 - Koala Habitat Protection.

DPE invited submissions on the Explanation of Intended Effect on proposed changes to the policy. This closed on 3 March 2017.

See the DPE SEPP 44 - koala habitat website. The outcome of the review will be incorporated into and become a component of the whole-of-government NSW koala strategy.

How does the Saving our Species Iconic Species Koala Project fit with the Koala Strategy?

Saving our Species will form an important part of the NSW koala strategy. The Saving our Species Iconic Koala Project provides a framework for on-ground conservation of koalas in NSW, addressing those threats to the koala that can be reasonably addressed by land managers, communities and experts. The NSW koala strategy will include the Saving our Species actions as well as broader actions to address policies and practices that impact the koala's long-term viability.

Page last updated: 10 March 2017