Four years after it was first established, and tasked with rescuing the dwindling coastal koala population through the restoration of habitat, the Tweed-Byron Koala Connections project has been wound up.
The group’s steering committee has met for the last time but its contribution to koala protection looks set to flourish, with further collaboration planned to build upon its progress.
The project saw an unprecedented level of cooperation between experts in the region and led to the planting of more than 76,000 trees, in 120 priority locations across the two shires.
Tweed Shire Council and Byron Shire Council worked together to secure a $2.1 million grant, through the Australian Governments Biodiversity Fund, after detailed studies in 2011 confirmed the critical conservation status of koalas on the Tweed and Byron coasts.
‘One of the unique and highly important aspects of the project was the active participation of key community groups and organisations,’ the Tweed Byron Koala Connections project manager, Scott Hetherington, said.
‘Representatives of Friends of the Koala, Brunswick Valley Landcare, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Tweed Landcare and Local Land Services formed the committee and played a critical role in its delivery.
Friends of the Koala President Lorraine Vass said: ‘The involvement and support of this group of community leaders has been essential to the project’s success.
‘In addition to the benefits of sharing, reflecting and deliberating on issues encountered in delivering an enterprise of this scale, the steering committee demonstrated the positive, whole-of-community response that is required to really make a difference for koala conservation.’
Mr Hetherington said many of the committee members are volunteers who made this important and highly valued contribution to the Tweed and Byron shires in their own time.
The importance of the committee’s role was acknowledged at the final meeting and has been recognised through awards such as the Green Globes and Banksia Sustainability Awards.
‘While the official project period has ended, collaboration between the organisations will continue through the implementation of Koala Plans of Management in both shires,’ he said.