Kangaroo Island

New action taken to protect Koalas as timber harvesting resumes on Kangaroo Island

The South Australian Government sanctions a comprehensive Koala Management Plan aimed at safeguarding koala welfare. Timber harvesting on Kangaroo Island can now resume under enhanced protective regulations amid ongoing investigations into past animal cruelty incidents.

The South Australian Government has given the green light to a new koala management plan on Kangaroo Island. This approval, issued by the Minister for Climate, Environment and Water, Susan Close MP, enables the re-commencement of Tasmanian blue gum harvesting on the island.

The new mandate comes following the suspension of operations by timber company, AAG Investment Management (AAGIM), upon revelations of extreme koala maltreatment at their plantations. Video evidence surfaced, depicting a disturbing level of koala harm within the plantation area. As a result, the government established immediate regulations, by which timber companies can no longer operate without a sanctioned koala management plan in place.

The new koala management plan submitted by AAGIM proposes enhanced measures to prevent such incidents from recurring. Particular emphasis is made on koala spotting requirements and strategies to improve fatigue management and communication among harvesters. Also included is a stipulation to report any incidents to relevant authorities within 24 hours. Other measures consist of notified harvesting two weeks prior to activity and formalising the relationship between veterinary professionals, wildlife care providers and the company.

The plan also differentiates koala spotting strategies for structurally stable plantations from those considered unsafe due to fire impact.

The Department of Environment and Water (DEW) will gauge the efficacy of the plan over the next half-year to determine if further adjustments are necessary. This evaluation includes unanticipated site visits by DEW staff to ensure new regulations are obeyed.

Susan Close recently held discussions with plantation owners in Sydney regarding the government’s concerns following the distressing footage. This newly approved plan signals only the first step to ensuring the safety of the koala population on Kangaroo Island. Investigations into past incidences of extreme cruelty within the timber plantations are ongoing, with investigators stationed on the island and in Adelaide.

“Shock pervaded our community following the revelation of koalas being killed and injured in timber plantations on Kangaroo Island, necessitating swift governmental action,” quoted Susan Close. She explained that although the approved plan would allow timber operations to recommence, investigations regarding any violations of animal welfare laws are ongoing, as is the overall management plan for koalas on the island.

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