In 2022, Koalas were Listed as Endangered in QLD, NSW and the ACT

Koala in Recovery NSW by Andres Novoa 768x1024 1

‘Koala in Recovery’, NSW, by Andres Novoa (@novoandress)

By Ruth Puddefoot

Countless people travel to Australia in hopes of experiencing the nation’s exceptional biodiversity. The majority of the country’s animals can be found nowhere else in the world. From marsupials such as koalas and kangaroos to unique native species like the platypus and Tasmanian devil, Australia’s spectacular wildlife never fails to impress.

In 2022, the conservation status of one of Australia’s national treasures, the koala, was downgraded from vulnerable to endangered in Queensland, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) 1999. Since 2022, there has been recognition that the koala is one step closer to extinction.

Land clearing and devastating bushfires have become significant factors in declining koala populations across Australia. In response, conservationists have advocated for stricter laws to safeguard koalas.

The WWF states koala numbers have halved in the past 20 years. The Australian government claims more than 400,000 wild koalas are remaining in Australia. However, the Australian Koala Foundation has expressed concern that actual numbers could fall as low as 33,000 to 60,000. Despite this alarming decline, land clearing in regions such as Queensland continues at troubling levels.

IFAW Wildlife Campaign Manager Josey Sharrad has called the decision to mark koalas as endangered a “double-edged sword” and states, “We should never have allowed things to get to the point where we are at risk of losing a national icon. If we can’t protect an iconic species endemic to Australia, what chance do lesser known but no less important species have?”.

“The bushfires were the final straw. This must be a wake-up call to Australia and the government to move much faster to protect critical habitat from development and land-clearing and seriously address the impacts of climate change.”

WWF conservation scientist Dr Stuart Blanch adds to this notion, emphasising that we must “turn this trend around and instead double the number of east coast koalas by 2050. Australia must complete the transition out of deforestation and native forest logging to become a world leader in forest protection and restoration”.

‘Koala Napping in the Wild’, QLD, by Andres Novoa (@novoandress)

Koalas Clinging on Two Years Later

Two years have passed since koalas were marked as endangered, yet Dr. Stuart Blanch argues, “We have not, as a nation, decided that we’ll save the koala.” Since koalas were listed as endangered, he adds, “there has been no change in the land clearing laws at federal or state level. We’ve had election commitments, but nothing has been fulfilled”.

The NSW government released a new Koala Strategy in 2022, which aims to support a range of conservation actions, including creating new habitats, supporting community initiatives, and improving koala health and safety. Despite these efforts, WWF reinforces that this strategy will not prevent the extinction of koalas and argues that it “ignores the advice of koala experts from government, community environment organisations and research institutions”.

The current situation regarding koalas highlights a failure to learn the lessons of 2022. If Australia truly wants to safeguard the koala, it must enact harsher and more effective environmental laws. Otherwise, the endangered status of koalas may tragically progress to ‘extinct’.

Ruth Puddefoot

Ruth Puddefoot is a freelance journalist committed to environmental news and conservation. She is passionate about exploring the relationship between nature and humanity and hopes to bring attention to vital ecological issues and support the cause of preserving our planet. Learn more about her online at:




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