This report examines the committee's inquiry into the status, health and sustainability of one of Australia's most loved and iconic native animals – the koala.
The committee was surprised by the complexity of this multifaceted issue. Many features and factors influence Australia's koala population. For instance in some areas (such as Queensland's Mulga Lands) their population is in sharp decline, whilst in others (such as Kangaroo Island in South Australia) their numbers are being actively managed because of an overabundance and resulting over-browsing.
A key challenge is the paucity of data on the national koala population. The koala's diversity is another aspect of added complexity, with northern koalas being far more diverse than their southern cousins. The range of threats is also varied, for example habitat loss, disease and motor vehicle strikes. As a result there are no easy solutions.
The duration and level of interest generated by this inquiry is an indication of the complexity of the issues raised. On four occasions the committee extended its reporting timeframe in order to gather more evidence and to conclude its deliberations.
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