Koala mapping program

The EPA has completed a 3-year program that mapped koala habitat and occupancy in NSW native forests. The maps improve the identification of koalas and their habitat and will be used to inform new identification and protection requirements in native forestry areas.

About the program

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

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 pilot project trialling three different mapping approaches to assess their suitability for managing koalas in state forests
  • a predictive koala habitat model which uses a range of environmental variables to produce a map of koala habitat on the north coast

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. This could include developing new koala identification and protection requirements as part of the remake of the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOA) and the future review of the Private Native Forestry Code of Practice (PNF Code).

The remade Coastal IFOA will ensure that rules for managing koala habitat are modern, fit-for-purpose and that 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 identify and protect places in the landscape where koalas are more likely to occur

This approach is a more comprehensive, adequate and transparent way of protecting important koala habitat. It will mean that habitat will be identified and protected, irrespective of koala occupancy

The specific requirements for koala protection under the new Coastal IFOA are still being developed. The government is committed to consulting with the community on the proposed changes to koala protection when the draft Coastal IFOA is publicly exhibited later in 2017.

The PNF 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 PNF Code after the Coastal IFOA remake. This will ensure that koala habitat management and protection under the Code are informed by the outcomes of this koala mapping program and the innovations in the new Coastal IFOA.

The results of the koala mapping program will form part of the state-wide koala habitat map being developed as part of the NSW Government's Koala Strategy.

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