Lismore City Council yesterday hosted a special thank you lunch for a Green Army group that has been helping win the battle against weeds and rehabilitate important areas of koala habitat in urban and rural areas.
In partnership with local Landcare groups, Friends of the Koala and landholders, a Green Army team of 17 to 24-year-olds has been working over the past six months to reduce habitat fragmentation as part of the Koala Habitat Restoration Project. Three more teams will continue that work over the next 18 months across 60 hectares of public and private land.
‘NSW koalas are a threatened species and programs such as Green Army are vital to help protect them through practical, on-ground works,’ said Anton Nguyen, Lismore council’s environmental strategies officer.
He added that the Green Army members, backed by local not-for-profit EnviTE Environment had been ‘working across multiple locations putting in 30 hours every week and often working in difficult conditions rain, hail or shine.’
‘Lismore’s south-eastern koala population is struggling to survive from the constant threat of habitat loss, dog attacks, road injuries and disease. The Green Army is helping us to remove invasive weeds such as lantana, which allows us to conserve and enhance koala habitat and green corridors so koalas and other native fauna can safely move around the city.
‘This group has done some fantastic work in koala hotspots including Rosebank, Goonellabah, Dunoon and others.’
The four consecutive Green Army teams are working on private properties that were identified through a landholder expression of interest process undertaken in 2013. Anton said similar partnerships will be developed through the upcoming Rural Landholder Initiative and Lismore council continues to seek external funding for ongoing native vegetation restoration in high priority areas.
‘EnviTE and council have lodged another Green Army application to extend the current rehabilitation work on koala habitat and corridors and broaden the scope to include on-ground works restoring other ecosystems in riparian areas such as Slaters Creek and Tucki Tucki Creek,’ Anton said.
‘We find the Green Army partnership model works incredibly well. Participants learn and gain new skills and we get a team of people that helps us achieve more than we ever could on our own. Their contribution should be acknowledged and rewarded.’
The Koala Habitat Restoration Project is supported by the Australian Government’s Green Army Programme and Lismore City Council.