The Federal Government has updated the conservation status of koalas from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘endangered’ in the states of NSW, QLD, and ACT, as the species edges one step closer to extinction.


Environment Minister Sussan Ley made the announcement this morning at the recommendation of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee after a review was conducted following the Black Summer bushfires.

On top of the change of threat status, Minister Ley has announced the government will take on a long-awaited national recovery plan for the koala. What this recovery plan looks like is yet to be revealed.

Read more: Koalas Under Threat – Can We Save Our Most Iconic Animal?

‘The new listing highlights the challenges the species is facing and ensures that all assessments under the [Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act] will be considered not only in terms of their local impacts, but with regard to the wider koala population,’ Minister Ley said.

The conservation status ‘endangered’ means that the species is at a high risk of extinction in the short term, compared to the previous status, ‘vulnerable’ which indicates a high risk of extinction in the medium term. 



Koalas were first listed as ‘vulnerable’ in 2012 by then Environment Minister Tony Burke, and the species has seen a rapid decline in numbers over the last ten years. 

It’s estimated a third of NSW’s koala population was killed in the 2019/20 bushfires and QLD’s koala population has halved in size in the last ten years too. 

‘The impact of prolonged drought, followed by the Black Summer bushfires, and the cumulative impacts of disease, urbanisation and habitat loss over the past twenty years have led to the advice,’ Minister Ley said

The Federal Government announced a commitment of $50 million over the next four years towards the restoration of habitat, research into animal health, and population monitoring. 

But environmental groups say that the funding alone is not enough to save the species from extinction. 

‘This money is much needed, but without stronger laws and major landholder incentives to protect koala habitat their forest homes will continue to be bulldozed and logged,’ said WWF Australia landscape restoration manager Tanya Pritchard.

‘This listing adds priority when it comes to the conservation of the koala,’ Minister Ley said.

Here’s hoping the new threat status will be the push needed to gain real protection for our furry friends!


Feature photo thanks to Marie-Laurence Paquette