The Queensland Government released the South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy 2020-2025 (Koala Strategy) on 29 August 2020. The Koala Strategy supersedes the Draft South East Queensland Conservation Strategy 2019-2024 which was released last year and refines the State Government’s targets for koala conservation in South East Queensland (SEQ) in light of the bushfires of 2019-2020 and feedback received on the Draft Koala Strategy.
A key outcome of the Koala Strategy’s release is the introduction of an additional koala habitat designation in SEQ which now may apply to development and land management activities. The new designation is ‘Locally refined koala habitat areas’ (LRKHAs) and includes areas (of mature vegetation) identified by local governments as of significance to koala conservation. The LRKHAs now join the other koala habitat designations (namely Koala Priority Areas (‘KPAs’), Core Koala Habitat Areas (‘KHAs’) and Koala Broad-Hectare Areas (KBHA)) that are regulated under schedules 10 and 11 of Planning Regulation 2017, State Code 25 and the Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2017.
For the purposes of regulation of koala habitat, the Planning Regulation 2017 defers to the Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2017 for the definition of koala habitat area. While LRKHA is not specifically mentioned within the Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2017, our interpretation is that LRKHA is taken as a koala habitat area and will be treated in the same way as Core Koala Habitat Area in the assessment of an activity against the koala planning provisions of the Planning Regulation and State Code 25.
As with any large-scale mapping, errors can occur. There is a map correction process available should a landholder wish to contend mapping on technical grounds. New Ground can assist with this as required.
Mapping can be accessed at https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/land/management/vegetation/maps/map-request.
The Koala Strategy can be accessed at https://environment.des.qld.gov.au/wildlife/animals/living-with/koalas/mapping/koalamaps – Action Areas 1 and 3 (pages 21 and 24) are particularly relevant to interactions between development and koala conservation.