Friday, April 19, 2024

Minister approves new koala management plan for timber plantations on KI: Close

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The Hon. Susan Close, Minister for Climate, Environment and Water (SA), Media Release, 26 March 2024

Harvesting of Tasmanian blue gums on Kangaroo Island can now resume after the State Government approved a new koala management plan submitted by timber company, AAG Investment Management (AAGIM).

Regulations introduced by the Government following the release of footage showing koalas being killed and injured within the plantations mean timber companies on the island cannot fell blue gum plantations without an approved koala management plan.

Improvements to koala welfare management outlined in the plan include:

  • additional koala spotting requirements and strategies to manage fatigue and communications with harvesters
  • a requirement to report incidents within 24 hours, and monthly interactions and operational activity reports be provided to authorities
  • notification of planned harvest activity two weeks prior to harvesting
  • formalising the relationship between vets, wildlife carers and company
  • differentiating koala spotting strategies between structurally stable plantations and those unsafe due to fire impact

The Department of Environment and Water will monitor the effectiveness of the plan over the next six months to determine whether further improvements are required.

This will include unannounced site visits by DEW staff to ensure the new procedures are being adhered to.

Environment Minister Susan Close met with plantation owners in Sydney a fortnight ago discuss the State Government’s concerns with the company following the release of footage showing koalas being killed and injured within the plantations.

The investigation into koala cruelty within the timber plantations is ongoing with investigators based on the island and in Adelaide.

Quotes attributable to Susan Close

The footage of koalas being killed and injured in timber plantations on Kangaroo Island shocked our community and required an immediate response from government.

This is why plantation owners now require an improved koala management plan before they can continue to remove the invasive Tasmanian blue gums from the island.

While this improved management plan will allow the company to resume felling, the investigation into any breaches of animal welfare laws is ongoing, as is work on a broader management plan for koalas on the island.

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