On 27 August, Byron Shire Council was asked to adopt its long-awaited and sorely-needed Plan of Management for the Shire’s coastal koalas, a population measured a few years ago at just 240 animals.
The vision of the KPoM is ‘to enable a long-term sustainable future for koala populations inhabiting the koala planning area’. That area is essentially the eastern part of Byron Shire, east of the highway. The area contained 240 koalas at last count, a few years ago. Reported mortality has been 50+, 30+ and 52 for each of the past three years. And that is only the reported deaths.
Koalas are listed as ‘vulnerable’ at both state and federal levels. They are ‘vulnerable’ in NSW, Queensland and the ACT.
Our KPoM was drafted from 2011 to 2013, was exhibited early in 2014 and was discredited at the end of its creation by councillors in October 2014. Legal advice confirmed some errors and a corrected draft came to council last week.
Councillors again knocked back the KPoM, this time insisting that it be peer reviewed (by a critic of its original author who carries an Australian honour for his work on koalas).
The current draft is now to go on exhibition for two weeks, informally on council’s website ‘to allow interested parties to make further submissions’. A workshop will then be provided for councillors to oversee the submissions and to shape the terms of reference of the peer review.
I encourage anyone who cares about the future of free-range koalas on our coast to find the KPoM on council’s website and make a submission. If you know of experts who might care, please ask them too. Your submission may influence the five anti-KPoM councillors to reconsider. Even if not, it is at least an avenue to record your protest.
Cr Duncan Dey, Byron Shire Council