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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

A bold koala-recovery plan needed for the Tweed

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Dr Steve Phillips was commissioned to direct the Tweed Coast Koala Habitat Study 2011 (TCKHS), which made recommendations to prevent localised koala extinction.

It states: ‘Revegetation work should focus primarily on “gap-filling” in large habitat blocks within and adjacent to mapped source populations’ (p48).

He has identified the Black Rocks sports field as an ideal location for tree planting in order to create a large habitat block because of its central location within the corridor for north-south and east-west koala movement.

TCKHS also states: ‘It will only be by effectively managing and recovering the remaining source populations that the whole will be preserved’ (p62)…’The primary focus of conservation and management efforts must be to maintain residency’ (p60).

We applaud the Koala Connections Project and volunteers (of whom I am one) for their koala tree planting efforts.

However, there is no point in continuing to plant koala trees if there are no koalas left to take up residency.

At the Black Rocks sports field there is little focus on protecting the resident Black Rocks koala source population from hooning, unleashed dogs and other koala-impactive activities.

Council recently approved a model aeroplane competition at this sports field, which is also used for very noisy petrol-powered model aeroplanes and para-motoring. All in close proximity to koala habitat and the only naturally-occurring osprey nest on the Tweed Coast.

Our koalas are exposed to unacceptable levels of disturbance; they are dying from stress-related disease, bushfire, vehicle strike and dog attack. Their habitat is fragmented by roads.

If the decline to extinction is to be reversed, Dr Phillips states: ‘An extraordinarily bold and and recovery-oriented management plan is required’ (2/12/2014).

Instead Council has resolved to impede koala recovery by replacing the existing koala protection gates at the sports field with a grid, allowing easy access night and day. Dogs are able to traverse grids (see UTube) and a grid will not stop hooliganism or dogs which are transported into the site by motor vehicle.

Dave Norris, Pottsville

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