A program to help save Tweed coast koalas, which currently face threats on a number of fronts, has been recognised nationally as a groundbreaking initiative.
Tweed Byron Koala Connections has been announced as a finalist in the United Nations Association of Australia 2015 World Environment Day Awards.
The program, which is overseen by Tweed Shire Council, was one of five projects recently shortlisted in the Best Specific Environmental Initiative category.
It’s the only good news for some time for the shire’s endangered koala population, which face threats from further development of two areas of core habitat, at Black Rocks and Kings Forest, as well as ongoing car strikes, dog attacks and stress-related di
The Awards are held in conjunction with World Environment Day on June 5 and celebrate innovative and outstanding environmental programs and initiatives across Australia.
Council’s senior biodiversity program leader, Scott Hetherington, said the Koala Connections project was acknowledged for providing a sustainable and secure future for koalas in the Tweed and Byron Shires.
‘Combining great science with community involvement and local expertise has resulted in the planting of nearly 60,000 trees on more than 100 properties in the coastal areas of Tweed and Byron so far,’ Mr Hetherington said.
‘In addition to the creation of more than 50 hectares of new habitat, we have also restored over 130 hectares of habitat and commenced management of threats such as vehicles and wildfire.
‘This integrated approach to the delivery or on-ground recovery actions for koalas is now recognised as critical and Koala Connections is certainly outstanding in this regard,’ he said.
‘Gaining national recognition for the progress of the project to date by being selected as a finalist in these awards is a fantastic achievement for the project team, landholders and partner groups.’
Greens criticise land-clearing decision
Meanwhile a federal government approval to clear up to 15 hectares of koala feed trees in the path of the Kings Forest suburban development has been slammed by Greens’ federal spokesperson, Dawn Walker.
‘We have a federal environment minister who is prepared to risk the extinction of koalas on the north coast. The loss of this habitat will be a severe blow for the survival of local koalas, with less than 140 koalas left in the Tweed and 60 of these living in Kings Forest,’ Ms Walker said.
‘What is most disappointing is the federal government has ignored both the survival needs of the local koalas and the wishes of the community and Tweed Shire Council to keep the development a dog-free precinct,’ she added.
‘With our Tweed koala’s already suffering from encroaching development, attacks by dogs, imported disease and road killings – it seems the Federal Government could have shown some support for the community and backed the Tweed Shire Council’s call for a dog ban on the new estate.
‘Koala Beach in Pottsville already has a successful “no dogs and cats” policy, so we know it can work, but the federal government has seen fit to ride roughshod over the good sense of the local community, in favour of the developer.
‘While some conditions have been put on the developer such as compensatory planting, koala grids and traffic calming devices as part of the new suburb’s construction, these measures do not stop the real threat of losing the remaining Koala population to dogs, dislocation and road killings. It’s a sad day for the Tweed koala and the Tweed community that loves them,’ Ms Walker said.
More stories on koalas
Protecting koalas is still at the forefront of conservation efforts in the Northern Rivers and Greens chair of the NSW government koala inquiry Cate Faehrmann MP recently visited Murwillumbah.
The north coast is coming out to celebrate World Environment Day this Saturday, June 5 as well as join together to remind the NSW government that without real action koalas will be extinct by 2050.
The proposed Dunoon Dam is still a possibility, though it has been voted against twice by the members of Rous County Council. Now information has emerged which presents another reason to shut down the threat of the dam once and for all.
The highly criticised NSW Koala SEPP (state environmental planning policy) that has been put forward by the NSW Liberal-National coalition does not protect Tweed Shire rural koala populations said Tweed Shire Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent) at last week’s council meeting.
Lack of action on climate change has ensured that we will see more fire seasons like the 2019–20 Black Summer fires so Lismore Friends of the Koala is getting prepared for the next one now.