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Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Native forestry

Koala mapping program

Koala in tree

Copyright to: Paula Pollock (EPA)

The EPA has completed a three-year program that examined new approaches to the mapping of koala habitat and occupancy in NSW native forests.

The program aimed to provide a clear understanding of koala habitat identification and management needs in native forestry areas on public and private land.

The program comprised three core projects:

  • A baseline map of koala occupancy to provide a more accurate picture of where koalas are located across NSW. A preliminary baseline map was released in February 2015.
  • A pilot project trialling three different mapping approaches to assess their suitability for managing koalas in a state forest context.
  • A predictive koala habitat model which uses a range of environmental inputs to produce a map of koala habitat on the north coast of NSW.

The program was funded by a Waste and Environment Levy (WELE) grant, administered by the NSW Environmental Trust.

The results of the koala mapping program are being used to inform the development of improved approaches to protecting koalas and their habitat during forestry operations on both public and private land. This could include the development of new koala identification and protection requirements as part of the remake of the coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs) and the future review of the PNF Code of Practice.

Proposed conditions under the new Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals

The remade Coastal IFOA will ensure that the rules for managing koala habitat are modern, fit-for-purpose and protections are in place to manage the impacts of logging on important koala habitat across the landscape.

The draft of the new Coastal IFOA will propose moving away from record-triggered approaches to koala protection, which has been shown to have limitations, and instead will focus on identifying and protecting the places in the landscape where koalas are more likely to occur.

This approach will mean that important koala habitat will be identified and protected across the landscape at all times, irrespective of koala occupancy. This will provide a more comprehensive, adequate and transparent way of protecting important koala habitat.

The specific requirements for koala protections under the new Coastal IFOA are still subject to development. The government is committed to consulting with the community on the proposed changes to koala protections when the draft Coastal IFOA is on public exhibition in 2017.

Protecting koalas during private native forestry

The Private Native Forestry Code of Practice (the Code) sets out the requirements for protecting koalas on private land. The mapping program addresses stakeholder concerns about the need to improve habitat management in private native forestry areas raised during the previous review of the Code of Practice.

The NSW Government has committed to reviewing the Code after the completion of Coastal IFOA remake. This will ensure that koala habitat management and protections under the Code are informed by the outcomes of this koala mapping program and the innovations in the coastal IFOA remake.

Development of NSW Koala Strategy

The outputs of the koala mapping program will also feed into the state-wide koala habitat map being developed as part of the NSW Government's Koala Strategy. 

 

Page last updated: 03 May 2017