NSW Government Koala Strategy
Koalas hold a special place for locals, and rightly so – they are a well-loved, adored iconic Australian native. During the past few years, there have been questions surrounding the long-term viability of the species, however, 2018 heralds a momentous era, thanks to the State Government’s initiatives.
Firstly, the NSW Koala Strategy. It was released earlier this year to much fanfare – and no wonder, it provides $44.7 million to help secure the future of the species.
Simply, it is the most significant step forward in koala conservation this State will deliver, offering a range of benefits, including:
- $20 million to purchase priority koala habitat
- $3 million to build a new koala hospital at Port Stephens
- $3.3 million to fix priority road-kill hotspots across NSW
- $4.5 million to improve the care of sick or injured koalas
- $6.9 million to improve our knowledge of koalas starting with the development of a state-wide koala habitat information base
- $5 million to deliver local actions to protect koala populations, including through the Saving Our Species program
- A new single wildlife rescue call number making it easier for people to alert authorities to injured or sick koalas.
The Strategy guarantees 24,000 hectares for koala reserves – land that will be actively managed to ensure prime habitat is conserved and key habitat corridors are linked.
The whole-of-government approach asks for locals to get involved, while also handing cash to support scientists’ research.
It begins the journey of bridging significant knowledge gaps – knowledge that we are slowly compiling from people like Dr Brad Law.
Dr Law is an NSW Department of Primary Industries Principal Research Scientist. He has recently completed a major new study that recorded forest sounds, and by doing so, found evidence for up to 10 times the rate of koala occupancy in NSW’s north-east forests than previously estimated.
Importantly, the NSW DPI project focused on the iconic marsupial’s response to timber harvesting and involved more than 14,500 hours of audio recorded over three years to measure the bellows of male koalas.
The new technique saw SongMeter devices installed at 171 sites in the north-east, in many State Forests, National Parks and reserves – a region that spanned more than 1.7 million hectares of mapped koala habitat.
In news that the local timber industry will concur with, Dr Law found that koalas had not been adversely affected by past timber harvesting. In fact, there was no influence on koala occupancy and no difference in results between heavily harvested, lightly harvested and old growth sites.
The outcome of this project is a reminder of the effectiveness of forestry management practices and neatly confirms the State Government’s environmental protections are working.
It also highlights the importance of retained habitat and food tree retention applied during harvesting for koalas and other wildlife, both in the short-term and decades after harvesting.
However, the good news doesn’t detract from the need to continue to focus our efforts on the species’ conservation, direct action like the NSW Koala Strategy. And it also doesn’t lessen the Government’s resolve to support a sustainable logging industry.
The timber industry supplies wood products used on a daily basis. It’s renewable and sustainable. It’s regulated and managed and NSW Forestry Corporation’s native forest operations only take place in regrowth forests, previously harvested for timber.
The government aims for balance; the implementation of the unprecedented in scale, NSW Koala Strategy, while supplying households with renewable timber products.
For further information visit:
- NSW Government Koala Strategy
- NSW Department of Primary Industries koala research in NSW forests
- Development and field validation of a regional, management-scale habitat model: A koala Phascolarctos cinereus case study.
Listen: ABC Off Track with Dr Brad Law
Authorised by M Pavey, 37 Elbow Street, West Kempsey NSW 2440. Funded using Parliamentary entitlements.