North Coast residents are being asked to participate in a new online survey which will provide valuable information about some of Australia’s most significant and vulnerable koala populations.
The NSW North Coast Koala Study is being run by the University of Queensland, Southern Cross University and the University of Sydney in conjunction with Tweed, Byron, Lismore and Ballina Councils and the Friends of the Koala organisation.
UQ School of Communication and Arts researcher Associate Professor Kelly Fielding said the study aimed to understand people’s thoughts and experiences of koalas in the region, and gather their opinions on best management of the region for conservation.
‘Conserving the koala is a major challenge for Australian governments and society,’ Ms Fielding said.
‘While understanding the habitat requirements of koalas is essential, recovery plans are often less than successful because we don’t understand how these plans impact on local communities.
‘This project is researching the koala’s relevance to the community, so that koala recovery approaches can reflect community preferences.
‘A potential benefit of this project is that councils can get a better sense of how people would like their environment to be managed for conserving koalas.”
Tweed Council Koala Connections Project Manager Scott Hetherington said the map-based survey allows participants to share their views about koalas and planning in a way that hasn’t been used in the region before.
‘In the first part you will drag small icons onto a map of the NSW North Coast Region to mark where you have seen koalas, where you would like to see more or less koalas in the future, and your preferences for future land use that may affect koala conservation,’ Mr Hetherington said.
‘You have the opportunity to provide as much or as little input as you like, across the entire region.
‘The second part is a simple questionnaire and your knowledge and opinions will help us to identify options for koala management and conservation.”
Please note that due to the graphic interface of the survey it is recommended it be completed on a PC or laptop computer rather than on a mobile device.
The survey, which will take about 20 minutes to complete, can be found at www.northcoastkoala.net.
People completing the survey will go in the prize draw for their choice of a two-day break at The Byron at Byron five-star resort or a 2017 iPad Pro.