Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson will open an exhibition of ‘portraits’ of Byron Bay koalas this morning at Byron Library.
The photographs are the best ones chosen from a selection taken by local residents.
They were collected after a call-out by biologist and Echonetdaily contributor Mary Gardner asking people to send in photos of koalas they had snapped in the Byron area.
More than 150 pictures of koalas in and around Byron Bay were submitted.
‘We know from scientific reports that there are koalas all over Byron and we also knew anecdotally because people kept telling us they see them but we were so delighted to see so many photos come in of so many different koalas,’ says Mary Gardner.
The exhibition contains photos of local koalas found between Broken Head and Myocum and is on display until July inside the Byron Bay Library.
The photographs and are labelled by location and date.
All 150 photos are also being used to create a digital story map about Byron koalas.
‘Byron koalas are neighbours that we can learn to recognise and look out for,’ says Mary Gardner.
People might begin to recognise different koalas — they have very distinctive features.
‘A 2012 Koala Habitat Study for Byron Council reported two major koala population centres were identified; Myocum-Tyagarah and West Byron.
Field data provide a broad population estimate of approximately 240 koalas existing within currently occupied habitat.
‘Despite a number of myths circulating about how many koalas are in Byron it is evident, given the breadth of locations of the koalas in these photos, that they are indeed here and in significant numbers,’ said Cate Coorey of Byron Residents’ Group.
‘What is frustrating and disappointing is that at the moment there is no plan in place to protect them.
‘Until the council votes to adopt the Draft Byron Coastal Koala Plan of Management our koalas are subject to factors that deplete their numbers – most of them from human activity,’ Ms Coorey added.
Ms Gardner said, ‘our koalas are experiencing tough times – shortage of home trees and food trees, dog attacks, infectious diseases and lack of planning for their future security.
‘Their trees are not well protected and there aren’t Byron Bay wide plans for growing more.
‘Traffic is cutting apart their corridors and secure places in the Belongil and Tallows catchments which make up Bryon Bay,’ Ms Gardner added.
The display has been compiled by the Byron Belongil Environment Group, an affinity group of the Byron Residents Group, and supported by Koala Connections project of the Byron Shire Council.
For further information or to provide more photographs contact Mary Gardner at [email protected].com or 0423 742 792