The Federal Government has outlined plans to protect the country’s most at-risk koala populations after moving to include them on the national list of threatened species.


Federal Minister for the Environment Tony Burke announced the Government will list koala populations in the ACT, New South Wales and Queensland as vulnerable under national environment law.


"My decision to list the koala under national environment law follows a rigorous scientific assessment by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee which gathered information from a variety of experts over the past three years,” Mr Burke said.


"Koala populations are under serious threat from habitat loss and urban expansion, as well as vehicle strikes, dog attacks, and disease.


"However, koala numbers vary significantly across the country, so while koala populations are clearly declining in some areas, there are large, stable or even increasing populations in other areas.


"In fact, in some areas in Victoria and South Australia, koalas are eating themselves out of suitable foraging habitat and their numbers need to be managed.


"But the Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory koala populations are very clearly in trouble, so we must take action.


"That is why the scientific committee recommended to me to list the Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory populations as threatened, rather than to list the koala as nationally threatened across its full range."


Mr Burke said the Gillard Government had committed $300,000 of new funding under the National Environmental Research Program Emerging Priorities to find out more about koala habitat.


"This funding will be used to develop new survey methods that will improve our knowledge of the quality of koala habitat using remote sensing, and help fill important data gaps to enhance our understanding and ability to protect the species," Mr Burke said.


"The new funding is in addition to more than $3 million we have invested since 2007 to ensure the resilience and sustainability of our koala population."