Koala officially endangered. Land clearing and bushfires major contributors.

Koala listed as endangered after Australian governments fail to halt its decline

No recovery plan for the Australian marsupial was in place despite it being identified as a requirement nine years ago

A koala joey is sitting in a eucalyptus tree surrounded by leaves and twigs
Conservationists hope the endangered listing and proposed Koala recovery plan will serve as a ‘turning point’ to save Australia’s iconic species. Photograph: Mark Evans/Getty Images

The Australian government has officially listed the koala as endangered after a decline in its numbers due to land clearing and catastrophic bushfires shrinking its habitat.

The environment minister, Sussan Ley, accepted the recommendation of the threatened species scientific committee that the koala populations of Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory should have their conservation status upgraded.

The stronger listing under national law is recognition that the koala’s plight has become more urgent and that successive Australian governments have failed to turn the much-loved animal’s circumstances around since it was listed as vulnerable in 2012.

A koala joey clings to its mum who is on a gum tree at Taronga Zoo
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It comes after the Morrison government last month announced $50m to help the species. The funding was welcomed by environment groups but described as a “drop in the ocean” if the root causes of the species’ decline were not addressed.

Ley said in addition to the endangered listing, the government planned to adopt a long-awaited national recovery plan for the koala.

“Today I am increasing the protection for koalas in NSW, the ACT and Queensland, listing them as endangered rather than their previous designation of vulnerable,” Ley said.

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