Protecting koala’s homes

Article image - Protecting koala’s homes Friends of the Koala President Lorraine Vass and Lismore City Council Ecologist Dr Damian Licari with one of the urban koalas at Lismore’s Koala Care Centre Lismore City Council’s Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management for South-east Lismore has been approved after 18 years in the making.

The plan received approval from the New South Wales Department of Planning just months after winning a Local Government Excellence in the Environment Award. The Plan was developed after a comprehensive consultation process that brought together industry stakeholder groups such as the NSW Farmers Association and the Australian Macadamia Society with wildlife carers and environmentalists.

Friends of the Koala President Lorraine Vass said she was elated.

“The push for a Plan of Management goes back to before I even joined Friends of the Koala in 2000.

“It’s been such a long struggle – it’s been very political and has had its fair share of opposition. At one stage during the development of the original Plan even supporters waivered because they felt it had been watered down too much.

“There are so many unknowns about the future of koalas – things like the impact of climate change – still on the horizon that we don’t yet fully understand.
“But having this Plan means we can get on with the job of managing what we’ve got, employing the best practices we can and using the knowledge we have now.”

Ms Vass said the push for a Koala Plan of Management began back in 1995 when ecologists Stephen Phillips and John Callaghan from the Australian Koala Foundation undertook a Koala Management Study in the Goonellabah and East Lismore areas.

The ecologists identified the tree species preferred by koalas and wrote recommendations about how to manage this unique urban population of wildlife.

Late last year the Koala Plan was honoured with a gong from the Local Government and Shires Association at the Local Government Excellence in the Environment Awards, where it won the Natural Environment Policies, Planning and Decision Making Category.

In further good news for Lismore’s koalas, Council received $90,000 from the Office of Environment and Heritage for targeted on-ground projects that will help improve koala habitat and the long-term survival of this iconic species in a regional city.

Council is forming a Koala Advisory Group to oversee the implementation of the management activities identified in the plan, which will include planting, fencing and weed removal among others.

“We can now really start to manage sustaining and improving our koala population,” Ms Vass said.

“The approval of the Koala Plan by local government means the survival of our koala population is now embedded in Lismore’s future.”