Koala song is now being used to track and map this elusive beast in its natural habitat. Using the new technique of acoustic monitoring, otherwise known as tracking koala calls, has improved the ability to track and map koalas and their distribution.
The NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and NSW Department of Industry and Lands have jointly funded the research undertaken by forest ecologist Dr Brad Law.
‘Despite previous pessimistic reports, there are many more koalas than previously thought, particularly in state forests,’ said Maree McCaskill, General Manager of Timber NSW.
‘The model developed by Dr Law has revealed that the presence of koalas is heavily influenced by wild fire history,’ continued McCaskill.
‘The low level burning previously used in traditional aboriginal culture kept the forest areas healthy and fauna protected from massive destructive fires.
‘Koalas and their preservation are a top priority for the industry which carries a particular Koala Code of Practice for forest operations in NSW.’
According to McCaskill Dr Law’s report indicates that the very large number of koalas recorded in some state forests is cause for optimism for koala conservation.
‘Significantly those state forests are regrowth forests with a long history of moderate intensity timber harvesting,’ McCaskill said.
Call for clearing and logging moratorium
The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) has described the Koala modelling released by the EPA as providing a worthwhile contribution to the better identification of important Koala habitat.
However, according to NEFA the modelling takes no account of logging that has removed the larger trees preferred by Koalas for food and shelter and over-states the extent of remaining high quality habitat.
‘The peer review of the EPA trial concluded that modelling can only be reliably used to predict the areas of unsuitable habitat and are too inaccurate to predict relative koala abundance within areas of potential habitat due to disturbances, such as logging, reducing or eliminating Koalas from potential habitat,’ said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
They are calling on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to place a clearing and logging moratorium on the high quality habitat identified, and to not proceed with plans to zone most of the best habitat on public lands for clearfelling.
‘It is no wonder that north coast Koala populations have declined by 50 per cent over the past 15 to 20 years as their best habitat has been excluded from parks and targeted for the most intensive logging, clearing and development. This modelling confirms our records based assessment’, continued Pugh.
‘If the NSW Government wants to halt the precipitous decline in Koalas then it must immediately place a logging and clearing moratorium over all modelled Koala high quality habitat until further assessments are undertaken.
‘They must not proceed with their plan to zone the best Koala habitat for clearfelling’, concluded Pugh.