Australia's New South Wales state on Wednesday said it is setting aside 20 million Australian dollars (14.2 million U.S. dollars) to buy private land and secure more protected habitats for its iconic koalas.
"Essentially, if you own good quality, occupied koala habitat that meets the criteria, the NSW Government is a willing buyer," the state's Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said in a statement.
The latest move is part of the state's commitment of more than 44 million Australian dollars (31.2 million U.S. dollars) toward "securing the future of koalas in the wild, which is the biggest commitment by any State Government to koala protection," said Upton.
More than 24,000 hectares of state forest is being set aside for the marsupials but the state is aiming to expand it to increase the number of koala habitat corridors and linkages across the landscape, she said. Criteria for the property purchases include the land's suitability for inclusion in the national parks estate and its potential of improving the management of threats to koalas.
"This unique initiative gives landholders who have koala habitat on their properties the option to sell all or part of their land so that it can be managed and conserved by the National Parks and Wildlife Service."