Award finalist

Article image - Award finalist Koala Connections volunteers celebrate planting the 10,000th tree for the project.

The Koala Connections program, a joint initiative between Tweed Shire Council and Byron Shire Council, is one of four finalists for a new Natural Environment Sustainability category for the 2014 Green Globe Awards.

Project Manager Scott Hetherington said Koala Connections was achieving its goals by initially bringing people together, creating unprecedented cooperation between many organisations and landholders to restore koala habitat.

“However, successful engagement with farmers and other landholders has been just as important in the program’s success.”

He said the $3.5 million program, funded principally by a $2 million grant from the Federal Government’s Biodiversity Fund, took a regional and multi-disciplinary approach, based on contemporary scientific literature and practice.
Koala Connections was launched in early 2013 to provide a secure future for koalas by increasing their habitable area.

Council officers have worked with landholders and community partners to plant 30,000 koala food trees and 25,000 trees and shrubs.

Halfway through the four-year program, they have already provided more than 40,000 trees and over 60 hectares of regenerated habitat.

The project’s steering committee includes delegates from both councils, Landcare, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Office of Environment and

Heritage and Local Land Services, the Local Aboriginal Land Council and the community-driven Friend of the Koala organisation.

The 15th Green Globes recognise businesses, government, community organisations and individuals who have integrated environmental practices and resource saving initiatives into their day-to-day operations.