THE NSW Department of Planning and Environment last week said that one of Australia's most iconic native animals will be better protected under an improved policy proposed by the State Government that will conserve the natural habitat of koalas.
A Department of Planning and Environment spokesperson said proposed updates to the State Environmental Planning Policy 44 – Koala Habitat Protection will better conserve and manage vegetation that provides habitat for koalas.
"Koalas are one of our most recognisable and iconic native animals and what this change will do is better preserve areas that are vital to their survival," the spokesperson said.
"This is the first step in improving the structure and effectiveness of the State policy and will inform a more comprehensive review of koala habitat protection."
The Department is updating the policy to assist councils to preserve koala habitat and also simplifying the planning system to make it easier for people to use. Councils are an important part in managing the local environment and the proposed updates will support them in the preparation of management plans.
"This will simplify the assessment process for development applications situated in areas not covered by a management plan and ensure the consistent use of criteria to protect koala habitat across NSW," the spokesperson said.
"The Department has worked with councils and key non-government organisations including koala protection groups, to inform these proposed updates."
The update of the policy will:
- Assist councils to prepare comprehensive plans of management;
- Make it clearer to assess proposals that may impact on koala habitat;
- Update the content of the policy, including the names of the councils to which it applies, the list of tree species and the definitions of koala habitat; and
- Ensure koala habitat is considered early in the strategic planning process.
Submissions on the proposed updates to the State policy on koala habitat protection can be made until 16 December 2016. More information is available from the Department of Planning and Environment website at <http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Koala-habitat>.