Research in Gunnedah, also known as the “koala capital of the world”, show that koala numbers have declined by 75 per cent since 1993, but they aren’t expected to receive extra protection.
Envionmental minister Tony Burke said his decisions on the animal’s status were based on advice from the national Threatened Species Scientific Committee.
The ruling, to be confirmed next week, is expected to list koalas in south-east Queensland as “endangered” and animals east of the Great Dividing Range in New South Wales as “vulnerable”.
Burke said: ”We know that koalas are under pressure in some parts of Australia while they are abundant in others. But I can’t provide a blanket threatened species listing across Australia when there are many places where koala numbers remain high.”
The listings would mean the government could put conditions on plans for new mines, housing developments and logging operations to protect koalas.
Australia’s iconic animal is dwindling because of pressures on its habitat, drought, climate change and from the disease chlamydia.
But Australia Koala Foundation’s Deborah Tabart said the “endangered” listing wouldn’t save the animals.
She said: “We are pushing for the species to be listed as ‘critically endangered’, which would mean developers would not be able to touch one koala tree in that area.
“Because I have been in my job for so long and I sat through the senate enquiries last year, I know industry is afraid of a listing and I know they have lobbied very hard. The logging industry, the development industry and forestry all pleaded with the senators last year, please do not list.”