NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer's declining koala populations report

In March 2016 the NSW Government asked the Chief Scientist & Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, to conduct an independent review into the decline of koala populations in key areas of NSW.

Recommendations from the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer's report

The report makes 11 recommendations to benefit koala populations in NSW. The main recommendation is for the NSW Government to adopt a whole-of-government koala strategy for NSW based on the principles of action, ongoing monitoring and continuous learning.

1 That Government adopt a whole-of-government koala strategy for NSW with the objective of stabilising and then starting to increase koala numbers.
2 That Government initiate a program to improve data on the number, location and occurrence of NSW koalas, including trends over time, taking advantage of new sensor and communication technologies and data analytics within 12 months of receipt of this report.
3 That Government publish a state-wide predictive koala habitat map within three years of receipt of this report, with immediate priority given to improving coverage of the north coast.
4 That Government improve outcomes for koalas through changes to the planning system.
5 That Government improve outcomes for koalas through the Biodiversity Conservation Bill and associated Regulations.
6 That Government investigate models for guiding and incentivising collaborative best practice for development and ongoing land use occurring in areas of known koala populations across tenures, industries and land users.
7 That Government agencies identify priority areas of land across tenures to target for koala conservation management and threat mitigation.
8 That Government, through the Office of Environment and Heritage, convene two symposia within 12 months of receiving this report: one for scientists active in koala research and land managers to develop a koala research plan; and one focussed on koala rehabilitation to identify actions to optimise the delivery of and support for the network of koala rehabilitation groups and carers.
9 That Government establish the Australian Museum as a preferred repository for koala genetic samples in NSW, and all data and metadata associated with these samples should be deposited into the SEED Environmental Data Portal (extended if necessary to include flora and fauna).
10 That Government facilitate the exchange of information among land managers, local government, the research community and the broader community.
11 That Government draws on knowledge and shares information with local community members through a program that supports localised engagement between liaison people and residents and industry.

A whole of government strategic approach

The report recommends that an effective whole-of-government NSW Koala Strategy should embody the following principles:

  • Act on evidence: act on the best scientific evidence available, reducing threats based on current understanding while also measuring and monitoring outcomes.
  • Recover: aim to recover the koala by managing and mitigating threats to key koala populations in New South Wales, managing cumulative impacts in a regional context and improving connectivity across the landscape.
  • Learn: learn by continuously improving knowledge and understanding of how koalas are faring and adapt management approaches.

Advisory committee

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
  • University of Queensland.

NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer's report

Read the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer's Report of the Independent Review into the Decline of Koala Populations in Key Areas of NSW and supporting papers.