By Simone Peterson and produced for online by Erin Smith.

A koala nestled in a tree at the David Fleay Wildlife Park Photo by Susan Hetherington

Koala populations in Queensland are to receive greater protection following a Federal Government announcement today.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke announced koalas would be listed as vulnerable nationally.

Koalas are already listed as regionally vulnerable under Queensland law.

The decline in koala numbers is largely blamed on habitat loss, urban expansion and disease.

Pine Rivers Koala Care Association member David Horstman says the listing will not help to further protect koalas.

“I don’t believe that it is going to achieve a great deal,” he says.

Mr Horstman says the listing needs to be upgraded so that the koala’s habitat is also protected by legislation.

“Within the South-East Queensland bio region; the koala must be declared as being not vulnurable but endangered.”

Wildernes Society campaign manager Naomi Hogan,says announcement will help protect koala populations.

“This is an important first step in getting national recognition that koalas are in serious delcine and need some help from our Fedral Governmnet.

“We need to see a reversal in some of the decisions that are being made currently around allowing huge areas of habitat to be destroyed.”

The decision has been long awaited by Australian Koala Foundation chief executive Deborah Tabart who has been campaigning for the listing for almost 20 years.

“I still think that we haven’t seen the fine detail yet so there still a range of things that I’m concerned about,” she says.

Ms Tabart says the legislation will be helpful in protecting the habitat of koalas from developers.

“I do think it is going to have some values for koalas long term.”