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Koala legislation and policy

There is a suite of planning instruments, policies and guidelines that protect koalas and their habitat. They are:

South East Queensland Koala Conservation State Planning Regulatory Provisions (SPRP)

The SPRP (May 2010) (see availability) is an overarching state planning instrument that regulates new development at the development assessment stage. The SPRP covers areas of the highest priority for koala conservation action. This incorporates priority koala assessable development areas which are made up of the Koala Coast and Pine Rivers areas, and the koala assessable development areas which are made up of areas managed under previous state koala conservation initiatives.

The SPRP regulates assessable development. This refers to development that planning schemes or planning legislation has identified as requiring assessment, where development meets certain triggers. The SPRP does not apply to development approvals that have already been issued or lodged prior to the commencement of the SPRP. There are also exemptions in the SPRP, such as for domestic activities.

The SPRP targets the areas where koalas are known to be under the most significant risks (Koala Coast and Pine Rivers). It incorporates the areas previously regulated by the Interim South East Queensland Koala State Planning Regulatory Provision (February 2010) or the Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2006 and Management Program 2006–2026.

The SPRP prohibits clearing bushland habitat in the priority areas of Koala Coast and Pine Rivers, and in areas outside the urban footprint. Urban development is also prohibited in conservation, open space, rural and rural-residential zones within the Koala Coast and Pine Rivers areas. This approach aims to bolster habitat for the koala populations at risk.

The SPRP provides requirements for all development activities to minimise its impact on koalas. Depending on the development type and koala habitat type, requirements may include:

  • avoiding, minimising or offsetting the clearing of non-juvenile koala habitat trees
  • site design that provides safe koala movement opportunities appropriate to the development type and habitat connectivity values of the site
  • construction phases that do not increase the risk of death or injury to koalas
  • clearing of native vegetation, undertaken as sequential clearing
  • clearing of koala habitat trees, undertaken in the presence of a koala spotter.

Development applications lodged prior to the commencement of the SPRP on 31 May 2010 will be assessed against local government planning schemes and, where relevant, the Interim South East Queensland Koala State Planning Regulatory Provision (February 2010) or the Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2006 and Management Program 2006–2026.

Resources

Sources of information and advice

  • Local government is responsible for implementing the provisions of the SPRP in the assessment of development applications and is best sought for providing specific information.
  • The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection provides advice on:
    • implementing and interpreting the SPRP
    • reflecting the SPRP in a planning instrument in relation to its jurisdictional interests in koala conservation.
  • Email: seqkoala@ehp.qld.gov.au or phone (07) 3330 5494.

The Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning provides technical advice on reflecting the regulatory provisions in a planning instrument and the operation of the Integrated Development Assessment System.

State Planning Policy 2/10: Koala Conservation in South East Queensland (SPP)

The SPP (see availability) (May 2010) is used to inform land use planning undertaken by state and local government, and infrastructure providers. This is to ensure koala and koala habitat conservation measures are reflected in planning schemes, structure plans, master plans, local area plans, community infrastructure designations and biodiversity development offset areas. The SPP covers seven south-eastern local government areas of Queensland defined as the South East Queensland Koala Protection Area (SEQKPA).

The SPP complements the SPRP by informing future local government plan making, such as planning scheme amendments, and land-use planning decisions through structure plans, master plans, local area plans, community infrastructure designations and biodiversity development offset areas.

The SPP significantly expands the area within South East Queensland that must incorporate koala conservation and habitat protection outcomes into planning decisions.

Planning decisions made in the South East Queensland Koala Protection Area (SEQKPA)—the seven eastern local government areas of South East Queensland—must include strategies and measures to respond to potential conflicts between achieving koala conservation objectives and development.

A key goal of the SPP is to contribute to a net increase in koala habitat in SEQ and to assist in the long-term retention of viable koala populations in SEQ. To achieve this, the SPP requires that planning must:

  • identify koala habitat values within the planning scheme areas using the South East Queensland Koala Habitat Values Map, and additional mapping information
  • protect significant areas of koala habitat value
  • retain and enhance habitat connectivity to maintain koala population viability
  • maximise koala safety and movement through design and layout of development
  • achieve a net gain in bushland habitat through the use of environmental offsets and other mechanisms incorporating, at a minimum, requirements of the Offsets for Net Gain of Koala Habitat in South East Queensland Policy (PDF, 112K)*
  • ensure preferred dominant land uses are consistent with achieving the outcomes of the policy
  • incorporate koala conservation assessment criteria for all relevant codes to ensure development is compatible with desired koala conservation outcomes
  • local governments must provide a koala conservation strategy to demonstrate how the policy outcomes are to be achieved, including complimentary, non-statutory management strategies.

The SPP also allows the planning Minister to consider Biodiversity Development Offset Areas that permit the protection of prime koala habitat through appropriate variations to the urban footprint. More information on Biodiversity Development Offset Areas can be found on the Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning website.

Land-use planning and infrastructure decisions made prior to the commencement of the SPP on 31 May 2010 must consider koala conservation outcomes of the Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2006 where relevant.

Resources

Sources of information and advice

  • The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection provides advice on implementing and interpreting the SPP and on reflecting this planning policy in a planning instrument in relation to its jurisdictional interests in koala conservation.
  • The Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning provides technical advice on reflecting the policy in a planning instrument and the operation of the Integrated Development Assessment System.

Where do they apply?

The new planning instruments will apply to local government areas where koalas are most at threat.

The new planning instruments will apply to local government areas where koalas are most at threat.

The SPRP applies to the priority areas of the Pine Rivers and Koala Coast (priority koala assessable development areas). The provisions also apply, to areas where the State previously had a concurrence agency role under the Koala Conservation Plan 2006 and the Interim South East Queensland Koala State Planning Regulatory Provision, February 2010 (koala assessable development areas).

The SPP applies to the seven eastern local government areas of South East Queensland: Sunshine Coast Regional Council, Moreton Bay Regional Council, Brisbane City Council, Redland City Council, Ipswich City Council, Logan City Council and Gold Coast City Council.

Resources

  • Maps relating to the SPRP and SPP.

Public consultation

In December 2009, the Draft South East Queensland Koala Conservation State Planning Policy and the Draft South East Queensland Koala Conservation State Planning Regulatory Provisions were released for public consultation. The SPP and SPRP for Koala Conservation Consultation Report (see availability) details the consultation undertaken on the draft planning instruments. The findings of this report have been incorporated into the final South East Queensland Koala Conservation State Planning Regulatory Provisions and the State Planning Policy 2/10: Koala Conservation in South East Queensland.

Offsets for Net Gain of Koala Habitat in South East Queensland Policy (offsets policy)

The offsets policy (PDF, 112K)* (May 2010), is used to ensure that environmental offsets for unavoidable impacts on high quality koala habitat, regulated by the SPRP and informed by the SPP, contributes to a net gain in bushland koala habitat in South East Queensland. The policy provides a framework and direction for using environmental offsets to counterbalance unavoidable clearing of koala habitat—where the impacts cannot be avoided or minimised, and where all other government environmental standards have been met.

The offsets policy contributes to achieving a net gain in mature and actively regenerating koala habitat across South East Queensland by 2020.

Koala offsets are a form of environmental offsets. Environmental offsets are used to replace the value of environmental features inevitably lost in development, which supports a growing economy and population.

An environmental offset is an action taken to counterbalance unavoidable, negative environmental impacts that result from an activity or development. An offset may be located within or outside the geographic site of the impact.

Environmental offsets are only applicable when the impacts cannot be avoided or minimised, and if all other government environmental standards have been met. An offset differs from mitigation in that it addresses remaining impacts, after attempts to reduce (or mitigate) the impact have been undertaken.

The offsets policy replaces Policy 2: Offsets for Net Benefit to Koalas and Koala Habitat, under the koala plan, and expands the role of environmental offsets for koalas in South East Queensland.

The offsets policy outlines requirements for offsetting impacts on koala habitat to ensure a net gain for koala habitat is achieved where impacts arise from:

The offsets policy is also a minimum standard for offset frameworks established in local planning instruments as required by the SPP.

The offsets policy aims at achieving a net gain in habitat. Where non-juvenile koala habitat trees are removed, development must offset that loss at a ratio of 5:1. Three options for offset liability are provided for by the policy—self delivery, delivery via an offsets broker (such as Ecofund) or financial contribution. Financial contributions will be collected by the relevant decision maker (either local government or the State) and used to acquit the offset liability.

Resources

State Government Supported Community Infrastructure Koala Conservation Policy (community infrastructure policy)

The community infrastructure policy (May 2010) outlines how state public sector entities will consider koala conservation outcomes in the planning and delivery of government supported community infrastructure. This policy replaces the state land freeze and assessment requirements for applicable Queensland Government supported community infrastructure activities within the SEQKPA.

The State Government Supported Community Infrastructure Koala Conservation Policy (PDF, 227K)* outlines how state public sector entities will consider koala conservation outcomes in the planning and delivery of government supported community infrastructure.

This policy replaces the state land freeze and assessment requirements for applicable Queensland Government supported community infrastructure activities within the South East Queensland Koala Protection Area (SEQKPA).

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that state activities not regulated through the SPP and SPRP meet the requirements of the SPP and SPRP, ensuring equitable treatment of state and non-state community infrastructure projects.

Infrastructure project compliance

It is a requirement under this policy that state infrastructure providers maintain and provide records of self-assessments against this policy for auditing purposes. State infrastructure providers should maintain details of their project and clearing requirements as EHP will monitor selected projects to assess compliance with provisions of this policy.

Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2006 and Management Program 2006-2016 (koala plan)

The effect of the koala plan in relation to planning and development assessment has been replaced by the koala planning instruments (SPRP, SPP). Other elements of the koala plan, such as policies relating to sequential clearing, use of a koala spotter, the rehabilitation of injured or sick koalas and translocation remain in place. As a result, the mapping of koala habitat areas under the koala plan (conservation, sustainability and urban koala) has been superseded by the SPRP and SPP koala habitat value maps. Sequential clearing requirements of koala habitat trees under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 is in place in koala districts A and B, and koala spotters are required in koala habitat areas in district A.

The koala plan, which came into effect on 2 October 2006, addresses the key threats facing koalas and sets out strategies to stop the decline of koala numbers and set in train the species' recovery. Issues addressed in the plan include:

  • habitat protection and vegetation clearing
  • development
  • state government infrastructure
  • vehicle mortality
  • dog attacks
  • translocation
  • research
  • zoos
  • public education
  • rehabilitation of sick, injured and orphaned koalas.

View the koala plan district area map (see availability)

Land-use planning and infrastructure decisions made prior to the commencement of the SPP on 31 May 2010 must consider koala conservation outcomes of the koala plan where relevant.

Resources

  • Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2006 and Management Program 2006–2016 (see availability)

Koala-sensitive Design Guideline: A guide to koala-sensitive design measures for planning and development activities

The Koala-sensitive Design Guideline: A guide to koala-sensitive design measures for planning and development activities (PDF, 2.0M)* (the KSD guideline) provides information for managers, land-use planners, infrastructure providers and development proponents. The guidelines determine and provide:

  • the appropriate measures to help avoid and minimise the impacts of development and land-use planning on koala movement and dispersal
  • information on what is needed to meet the requirements of the SPRP to manage risk to koalas on site and safe movement opportunities and the SPP to ensure koala safety and movement are maximised through design and layout of development.

The KSD guideline (PDF, 2.0M)* provides information for managers, land-use planners, infrastructure providers and development proponents. The guideline determines appropriate measures to help avoid and minimise the impact of development and land use planning on koala movement and dispersal.

The guideline also provides information on what is needed to meet the requirements of the SPRP and the SPP. This information includes:

  • SPRP—managing risks to koalas on site, and safe koala movement opportunities
  • SPP—ensuring that koala safety and movement are maximised through design and layout of development.

The measures in this guideline do not replace the requirements of the SPP and the SPRP, particularly in regard to habitat retention. However, they are intended to assist in determining the most suitable outcome for koalas as a result of development or land-use planning.

Measures in this guideline are based on koala-sensitive design principles that help development:

  • retain and protect koala habitat values in their natural state to allow koalas to feed, rest and move around
  • achieve permeability for koalas through the landscape to ensure the safe movement of koalas within and across a site
  • reduce threats to resident and transient koalas.

The guideline is to be used to:

  • identify the threats or risks that development has on safe koala movement
  • help identify the appropriate koala safe fencing and measures to avoid and minimise those risks
  • provide principles, techniques and examples for consideration in the planning, design and layout stages of development
  • interpret the SPP and the SPRP outcomes for koala safe movement opportunities.

Resources

Available from the library catalogue

The documents referred to on this page are available from the department’s online library catalogue.

* Requires Adobe Reader

Last updated
21 May 2013