A project which aims to provide a secure future for koalas on the NSW far north coast was officially launched at World Environment Day celebrations on Sunday by Tweed mayor Barry Longland.
‘The Koala Connections project will give our koalas a better future by increasing the area, quality and connectivity of koala habitat in the Tweed and Byron shires,’ Councillor Longland said.
The $3.5 million program will improve this habitat – to protect koalas and many other species of endangered fauna and flora – through tree planting, weed control, community engagement, invasive vertebrate pest management and fire management and planning.
‘Coastal development in the Tweed and Byron shires has substantially reduced and fragmented available habitat for native fauna, particularly koalas, creating numerous sub-populations and increasing the potential impact of threats such as feral and domestic animals and bushfires,’ he said.
‘Koala Connections will link core koala habitats, enhance endangered ecological communities, and improve connectivity for native flora and fauna between inland and coastal communities.’
Tweed Shire Council and Byron Shire Council are working together on the Koala Connections project, which is being funded principally by a $2 million grant from the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Future Biodiversity Fund.
The grant, from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, is complemented by cash and in-kind contributions of all project partners – including both councils, landholders and community groups. That includes $100,000 over four years from Tweed Shire Council’s Biodiversity Grant Program.
Over four years, the project aims to plant: 30,000 koala food trees, with 2000 mixed shrubs and under-storey plants, to create 75 hectares of effective fauna and flora linkages; and 25 hectares of riparian and rainforest plantings, comprising 25,000 trees and shrubs and 6000 under-storey plants to enhance Endangered Ecological Communities.
The project is designed to enhance inland to coastal linkages over approximately 20,000 hectares, and improve ecosystem resilience and adaptation to climate change. In addition to tree and shrub planting, weed control will help the habitat to restore itself.
The goal is to see evidence of improved natural regeneration after five years, on 225 hectares of koala habitat and Endangered Ecological Communities (EEC) listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) and the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act (1995).