Members of the Koala Connections steering committee, together with their mascot at its first meeting last week.
A new project to create better wildlife corridors for koalas and other endangered native species in the Tweed and Byron shires reached a major milestone last week, with a steering panel of local authorities meeting for the first time.
Delegates for the Koala Connections steering committee, including representatives of the Byron and Tweed councils and several environmental, koala and Aboriginal authorities, met in Murwillumbah to continue planning for the three-year, $3.5 million project.
The initiative, funded primarily through a $2 million grant from the federal government’s Clean Energy Future Biodiversity Fund, aims to protect the coastal population of koalas and other endangered plants and animals by creating better vegetation corridors.
‘We will be planting thousands of trees – a mixture of koala food trees and rainforest and riparian varieties – to create a complete north–south corridor along the coast and a series of east–west corridors to link with inland forests,’ Koala Connections project manager Sally Jacka said.
‘That will include working with many landholders in both shires because much of the land identified for the corridors is privately owned.
‘In addition to planting around 55,000 trees over two years, the project will also include pest management, weed and fire control and community education.’
Tuesday’s meeting brought together authorities in many fields, including the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Landcare, the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, Friends of the Koala and the Ngulingah Local Aboriginal Land Council.
‘This group will now meet bi-monthly to lend the members’ expertise to a vital project to conserve the Tweed and Byron coast koala communities and many other flora and fauna species under serious threat from urban expansion, invasive pests, bushfires and other pressures,’ Ms Jacka said.
‘Coastal development has seriously fragmented available habitat for many native species, which leaves them even more at threat from the impact of invasive pests, fires and disease. Corridors to link the remaining patches of habitat are essential for the survival of these species.
‘The participation of farmers and other landholders will be vital to producing complete corridors and we have set a goal to get at least 75 landholders involved.’
For a fact sheet with more information on the Koala Connections project, visit www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/YourEnvironment/KoalaManagement.