In order to build a new mine in Queensland, Australia, 1,023.6 hectares of koala habitat would need to be removed. More than 70 hectares of the greater gliders’ habitat will also be lost as a result of the project; earlier this month, two of these species were placed on the endangered species list.
Greater gliders and koalas are both categorized as endangered, with koalas receiving their official listing in February 2022. However, the government is deciding whether or not to move forward with the proposed coal mining project, known as Vulcan South, by the private business Vitrinite Pty Ltd. An environmental impact statement (EIS) is not required to be released.
1.95 million metric tons of coal would be produced annually, according to the company’s estimate. An EIS is required for mines that produce 2 million metric tons of coal annually. According to The Guardian, detractors claim that this is only one instance of a “disturbing pattern” of businesses narrowly missing the requirements to bypass the EIS procedure.
As of March 2022, a nearby mine operated by Vitrinite called Vulcan has already received approval and is anticipated to produce 1.95 million metric tons of coal yearly. 200 hectares of koala habitat will be removed as part of the authorized Vulcan Mine project for development. According to Vitrinite, the proposed Vulcan South project will “conservatively offset the impacted habitat,” and long-term effects of the coal mine on koalas are expected to be negligible.
If you’re just going to keep allowing more and more of a species’ habitat to be removed, what’s the point of uplisting it to endangered? Professor of ecology at the Australian National University, David Lindenmayer, stated. The Australian system, according to Lindenmayer, is designed to turn it into the “extinction capital of the world,” he added.
The announcement coincides with the publication of a sizable report on Australia’s environment and biodiversity. Australia’s ecosystems are being damaged by pressures from climate change, pollution, resource extraction, invasive species, and habitat destruction, according to the ground-breaking State of the Environment Report. Since the last assessment in 2016, the number of vulnerable species in the nation has increased by 8%, and Australia was determined to have lost the most mammal species when compared to other continents.
According to the research overview, “our inability to appropriately manage pressures will continue to result in species extinctions and declining ecosystem condition, which are eroding the environmental capital on which present and future economies depend.” “Impacts on society, the environment, and the economy are already visible.”
In a letter to Queensland’s environment minister Meaghan Scanlon, Jonathon Dykyj of the Mackay Conservation Group asks that Vitrinite be subject to the EIS procedure and that the 2 million metric ton cap be lifted because companies continue to propose projects that are just a tiny bit below that amount in order to circumvent the EIS procedure.
Why on earth do we want to keep destroying the habitat of iconic and endangered animals, and why is it not being properly evaluated? According to the State of the Environment Report, two major factors—the destruction of habitat and climate change brought on by fossil fuel projects—are to blame for Australia’s environmental disaster. “We simply cannot afford to destroy the habitat of endangered species in order to construct climate-destroying coal mines. Australia already holds the record for most extinct mammals worldwide. The Koala is being driven closer to extinction by approving projects like the Vulcan South coal mine.
This article by Paige Bennett was first published by EcoWatch on 20 July 2022. Lead Image: A koala in Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, a 18-hectare Koala Sanctuary in the Brisbane suburb of Fig Tree Pocket in Queensland, Australia. Paolo Picciotto / Universal Images Group / Getty Images.