Koala Habitat Enhancement
The Koala is one of Australia’s most iconic animals, recognisable around the world. Koalas feature in many Aboriginal dreaming and creation stories, and are a totemic species. Koalas benefit the Australian economy – it is estimated that they create over 9,000 jobs and contribute between $1.1 and $2.5 billion per year to tourism in Australia. The scientific name Phascolarctos cinereus means ‘ash-coloured pouched bear’, however Koalas are not bears at all, and are in fact marsupials whose closest relative is the Wombat.
Sadly, the numbers and distribution of this species dramatically declined since European settlement, and surveys across NSW indicate that since 1949 populations have been lost from many localities.
So, knowing that our home range to the south of Bathurst is ‘core Koala habitat’, i.e. habitat known to support a breeding population of Koalas, as evidenced by sightings of mothers with young, TEF sought to obtain grant funding from the Local Land Services to undertake a large scale revegetation and habitat connectivity project.
In this region, the NSW South Western Slopes Koala population is known to be associated with Southern Tableland Grassy Woodlands, which occur throughout the Bathurst region. Planting out the whole community, as well as other local, endemic vegetation species, supports the whole habitat for the Koala, and other native biota, and not just the feed trees. This also is known to have benefits for agricultural productivity.
TEF in conjunction with 3 private landholders, installed 3,530 m of stock-proof fencing and planted 2,550 Box Gum Grassy Woodland tubestock across 8 Lots, covering an area of approx. 2.6 km2.
Unfortunately, as this project was delivered during a severe drought, and in spite of the careful, labour intensive planting techniques employed, the project suffered losses to plants due to predation by kangaroos and dry conditions. Some areas have survived really well, however, with trees >1 m tall in some places just one year since planting. TEF will continue to work with these brilliant landholders to ensure long-term success of the project, and habitat improvements in this area for the iconic Koala.
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