Koala legislation and policy
There are 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)
- Amendment to the Koala SPRP—November 2015
- Specific requirements for koala related offsets under the Queensland Environmental Offset Policy
- State Government Supported Community Infrastructure Koala Conservation Policy (community infrastructure policy)
- Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2006 and Management Program 2006-2016 (koala plan)
- Koala-sensitive Design Guideline: A guide to koala-sensitive design measures for planning and development activities
- Community infrastructure offsets for koala habitat
The SPRP 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 2006–2016.
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.
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).
SPRP Koala Habitat Values Maps are available.
The South East Queensland Koala Conservation State Planning Regulatory Provisions was amended in November 2015. The draft amendment to the SPRP was notified by Extraordinary Queensland Government Gazette (No. 46) on 26 June 2015 and had immediate effect from this date.
The amendment to the SPRP has the effect of maintaining the environmental offset requirements of the Environmental Offsets (Transitional) Regulation 2014 (Transitional Regulation) which expired on 1 July 2015. The draft amendment maintains the koala offset provisions established by the Transitional Regulation by referencing the Queensland Environmental Offset Policy.
- South East Queensland Koala Conservation State Planning Regulatory Provisions
- Guideline: South East Queensland Koala Conservation State Planning Regulatory Provisions
- Maps relating to the SPRP.
- Superseded Koala SPRP
- Gazette – 26 June 2015: Draft SPRP amendment notification
- Gazette – 13 November 2015: Notification of making amended SPRP
Sources of information and advice
- Local government is responsible for implementing the provisions of the SPRP in the assessment of development applications and should be contacted for specific advice on applying the SPRP to development proposals.
- The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection provides advice on reflecting the SPRP in a planning instrument in relation to its jurisdictional interests in koala conservation.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (07) 3330 5959.
- The Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning provides technical advice on reflecting the regulatory provisions in a planning instrument and the operation of the Integrated Development Assessment System.
Email: email@example.com or phone (07) 3452 7009.
The Queensland Environmental Offset Policy (offset policy), is used to ensure that environmental offsets for unavoidable impacts on high quality koala habitat, regulated by the SPRP, contributes to the rehabilitation, establishment and protection of koala habitat.
An environmental offset is an activity taken to compensate unavoidable negative environmental impacts. An offset differs from mitigation by addressing any remaining impact after all attempts to first avoid and then reduce the impact have been exhausted.
Where an offset condition has been applied, the offset is to be delivered in accordance with the Queensland Environmental Offsets Framework. This framework clarifies how environmental offsets should be delivered.
There are a number of specific requirements for koala related offsets, including the requirement that the rehabilitation, establishment and protection of koala habitat is the only activity that can be used to offset koala habitat.
The offset policy replaces Offsets for Net Gain in Koala Habitat in South East Queensland Policy (2010).
The offset policy outlines requirements for offsetting impacts on koala habitat where impacts arise from:
- development assessment decisions under the SPRP
- Queensland Government supported community infrastructure undertaken in accordance with the State Government Supported Community Infrastructure Koala Conservation Policy.
State Government Supported Community Infrastructure Koala Conservation Policy (community infrastructure policy)
The State Government Supported Community Infrastructure Koala Conservation Policy outlines how state public sector entities will consider koala conservation outcomes in the planning and delivery of government supported community infrastructure, like roads or school buildings.
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 community infrastructure policy applies to the planning and delivery of all Queensland Government supported community infrastructure activities within the South East Queensland Koala Protection Area. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that State activities not regulated through planning schemes or the SPRP meet the same requirements, ensuring equitable treatment of State and non-State community infrastructure projects.
Read more about community infrastructure offsets for koala habitat and the current levels of State Government entities contributions.
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.
The effect of the koala plan in relation to planning and development assessment has been replaced by the SPRP. 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 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
- state government infrastructure
- vehicle mortality
- dog attacks
- public education
- rehabilitation of sick, injured and orphaned koalas.
View the koala plan district area map.
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 (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 in relation to habitat connectivity and koala movement.
The guideline also provides information on what is needed to meet the requirements of the SPRP, in relation to managing risks to koalas on site, and safe koala movement opportunities.
The measures in this guideline do not replace the requirements of 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 SPRP outcomes for connectivity and koala safe movement opportunities.
Offset site during establishment phase.
Large-scale planting project.
Juvenile koala habitat trees protected with guards.
There are a range of measures in place to protect koala populations in South East Queensland. One of the major safeguards is requiring community infrastructure projects to offset any loss of koala habitat—required under the State Government Supported Community Infrastructure Koala Conservation Policy (CI Policy).
Aim of the CI Policy
The CI Policy, which has been in place since 2010, ensures State Government agencies consider koala conservation outcomes in the planning and delivery of government infrastructure such as roads and school buildings.
State agencies are required to provide a net gain in bushland koala habitat in South East Queensland for unavoidable impacts on higher quality koala habitat.
State agencies have three options to deliver offsets:
- Financial settlement
- Land-based offset (direct replanting of koala habitat trees)
- Combination of a financial settlement and land-based offset.
Offset payments enabled properties purchased by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) to be rehabilitated and allowed private landholders to rehabilitate their own properties.
EHP has purchased land of the highest priority for koala conservation in South East Queensland. CI offset payments are used to rehabilitate large areas of koala habitat on these properties. Once koala habitat is well established, properties are transferred to a suitable land manager to allow for long-term protection of the habitat.
EHP partnered with landholders to establish koala nature refuges on private land in South East Queensland. EHP has funded and manages the habitat restoration projects on these nature refuges.
After completion the land owner continues to manage the property and the restored area to maximise koala habitat outcomes.
- Koala-sensitive Design Guideline: A guide to koala-sensitive design measures for planning and development activities
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