Our core business is conserving koalas and preserving and enhancing their habitat. An important part of this is educating the community about what’s happening that affects koalas, participating in and supporting relevant campaigns and research, and advocating or speaking up for them.
Pacific Highway Woolgoolga to Ballina: Update to end March 2018 including Koala Interest Group meeting 8 and on-site inspection on 9 May re connectivity structures in Wardell Road
Ros Irwin and Maria Matthes met with RMS staff in March and again on 9 May to discuss outstanding issues around the maintenance of fences and the revegetation areas, absence of connectivity structures on local roads, and the need for more monitoring. We recently attended Koala Interest Group meeting No 8 and were updated on the progress since our March meeting.
A summary of outcomes are:
- RMS and Pacific Complete have inducted 8158 contractors and staff through the Zero Harm to Koalas program
- A Koala Spotter award was given to a contractor working from Petersons Quarry for a sighting at Broadwater just outside the project boundary. He went beyond his duties to report it to the Project Ecologist and Pacific Complete, and let everyone at his workplace know immediately.
- Predator Control has been slow and is not as successful as we’d have hoped. 31 traps were set across the study area with a total of 3 dogs and 7 foxes caught so far. Autumn breeding season is starting so hopefully some more wild dogs will be caught soon. Nevertheless a significant number of predators have been removed, which is a positive outcome.
- The revegetation areas (110 ha) are starting to look good following trials in weed control at the sites. Some sites have been more successful than others for a variety of reasons.
- The maintenance program for the fauna exclusion fences has commenced with weed control along fences to kill grass, and overhanging branches trimmed.
- Phased Resource Reduction Phase 5 finished at the end of November 2017. We were provided with the final draft of the report for Laws Point (which will be available on the RMS website soon). The Wardell Road report is in preparation. The report for the additional koala survey (as requested by Friends of the Koala to address the gap in monitoring and the need to know where the koalas are and how they are going) is also in preparation.
- Connectivity Structures on Wardell Road were discussed. Of particular concern was the timing of the proposed works. The contractors’ proposed timeline was the beginning of breeding season August-September which would be over 12 months of no connectivity. This delay was due to engineering constraints and traffic and safety management requirements. FOK said this was unacceptable for the koalas, and that these structures needed to be in place by the end of July. Alternative options were discussed and we met on site with the EPA and RMS/Pacific Complete/Lend Lease staff on 9 May to consider those proposals. We were advised that at least one structure will be in place in Wardell Road by the end of July, weather permitting.
If you would like more information please contact Maria Matthes on 0467 855 990 or email@example.com
Pacific Highway Woolgoolga to Ballina: Update on November Koala Interest Group meeting
We and others fought for 12 years against the route for Stage 10, which is what would have been expected of us. Our decision post approval by both the State and Federal governments to be part of the solution has been criticised by some but has paid dividends in being involved in the Koala Interest Group and developing working relationships with the project staff. This has enabled us to monitor what is happening and make suggestions which are listened to and generally taken on board.
FOK has been extremely busy working for Ballina and Richmond Valley’s koalas. This update provides a summary of what we’ve achieved in working with the RMS and Pacific Complete for Ballina’s koalas during the last six months. As said before, we don’t know if all our efforts will be enough, when coupled with on-going Chlamydia and Retrovirus evidenced in the population, but if we can have healthy populations at the end of the construction stage, it will have all been worthwhile.
The alignment construction is moving at a pace that is difficult to comprehend, with a different landscape emerging on a daily basis. What we and the koalas once knew is no more. The tree clearing for the alignment will be completed soon after the RMS Christmas break, most of the cleared vegetation has been mulched, and as a result, the koalas are now in a transition stage of having to adjust to their changed environment.
An RMS community update was delivered to residents in late December to update them on what has happened so far. We’re also attaching the Pacific Complete Minutes of the November Koala Interest Group meeting with the RMS in November so that interested people can see what’s happening, and a link to the RMS December Community update on progress on the Woolgoolga to Ballina route.
The Pacific Complete Minutes of the November meeting demonstrate the complexity of the project and the actions being taken to address the Conditions of Consent for the project.
RMS have also provided a December Community Update which is worth a read.
The story of Azam and Yahzi
The RMS and Pacific Complete ecologists have been working in conjunction with FOK and have identified a number of koalas with clinical signs of disease, and/or potentially exhibiting signs of stress. Some of these koalas have been rescued subsequently, and all but one were euthanased. There remain a few more still to capture, and several we need to keep an eye on. Two of the koalas in close proximity to the project footprint that required particular attention, are known as Azam and Yazhi. Click here to read their stories
Campaigns by other community organisations
Many other community organisations are doing excellent work to protect koalas and assist their recovery in NSW. We’re a member group of the state-wide Nature Conservation Council of NSW and NSW Wildlife Council, and are also members of the North Coast Environment Council and the North East Forest Alliance.
We support campaigns spearheaded by other organisations such as the following:
National Parks Association of NSW’s Great Koala National Park at koalapark.org.au
Nature Conservation Council of NSW’s Forest Campaign at nature.org.au/campaigns/forests-and-wildlife
South East Region Conservation Alliance’s Great Southern [Koala] Forest serca.org.au/nature/koalas
Western Woodlands Alliance’s Western Woodlands Koala Park westernwoodlands.weebly.com
Better Planning Network’s Community Charter for Good Planning thecommunitycharter.org
Through our membership of the Nature Conservation Council we support the Places You Love campaign to safeguard Australia’s environmental protection laws placesyoulove.org.
One of the ways we promote understanding and support for koalas in the Northern Rivers is to articulate the concerns of our members and supporters to those who are responsible for implementing government policy or in a position of influence if policy reform or review is needed.
We promote awareness and encourage discussion by bringing issues to the public’s attention through the media and then providing information and advice.
Friends of the Koala’s advocacy work encompasses writing letters and submissions, providing advice by telephone, via the website, in our Treetops newsletter or in writing, issuing media releases, meeting with elected representatives of the three levels of government, addressing local government councils, participating in public meetings and referring enquirers to the most relevant organization.
Advocacy work often involves alliances with other environmentally-focused community groups and we enter into alliances when we assess that it will achieve mutual benefit and greater effectiveness. We’re active in matters ranging from local developments and issues to national policy.
Port Stephens Koalas – Anna Bay NSW
Koala Hospital- Port Macquarie NSW
Wildlife Health Australia
Koala Infectious Diseases Research Group (KIDReG)
Australasian Wildlife Genomics group
Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment – UWS
The Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project
Science for Wildlife
Land for Wildlife
Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Service
University of Sydney – Koala Research