Habitat projects and grants

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Reducing the impact of Golden Rain trees in the Lismore area

Lismore City Council (LCC) and Friends of the Koala (FOK) are working together to reduce the impact of Golden Rain Tree on council reserves in Lismore. FOK have taken on the daunting task of restoring East Lismore’s urban bushland that is known Koala habitat and provides safe refuge for Koalas. This work is part of a greater Koala corridor project from Southern Cross University to the Wilson River and is being funded over three years by the NSW Environmental Trust with the aim of enhancing habitat and increasing connectivity of these remnants to create safe passage for our vulnerable Koala population.

Weed invasion is one of the most relentless and insidious of the many threats to urban bushland. Many of our council reserves, such as City View Drive, are in a seriously degraded state due to the incursion of weeds from surrounding backyards, garden waste dumping and the dispersal of weed seeds by native fauna such as flying foxes and fruit eating birds. Golden Rain Trees adjacent to reserves are spreading at an alarming rate into bushland. These trees dominate where native trees should occur. Natural regeneration of Koala food trees cannot compete with these and other, exotic species. For example, the Golden Rain tree  (Koelreuteria elegans subsp. Formosana) is prolific and will dominate gardens and bushland in a very short time, however it is easy to control and can be replaced with a range of native species such as the Cheese Tree (Glochidion ferdinandi).

LCC are assisting FOK by providing funds to enable the removal of mature trees in close proximity to Koala habitat on their reserves.

The Green Army

Friends of the Koala in the past supported, and were actively involved in, Green Army projects that enhance koala habitat across our Region. In 2014 for the first time we applied for Green Army projects in our own right as this way we could determine the priority areas for FOK. Click here environment.gov.au/land/green-army to read more about the Green Army.

Our primary aim in sponsoring Green Army teams is to achieve, directly and indirectly, local and regional conservation outcomes by enhancing and restoring the habitat of NSW’s iconic threatened species. The work undertaken will also assist with the implementation of actions identified in the NSW Recovery Plan for the Koala and Lismore Council’s Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management for South-east Lismore.

Project 1

Assisting the recovery of koala populations on the NSW North Coast’ comprised two Green Army teams the first of which completed their 6 months’ obligation at the end of June 2015 and the second in late December 2015. Participants were involved in a range of activities to enhance koala habitat including seed collection, propagation and planting of koala food trees on private and public land, and habitat restoration through weed control and community education.

The teams worked in partnership with Caniaba, Jiggi and Boatharbour Landcare groups as well as Northern Rivers WIRES to restore koala habitat. They reached all the targets set for the project including 7,320 koala food trees planted, 20,000 koala food trees propagated, approximately 14.3 hectares rehabilitated and many local seeds collected. This was a great result.

Project 2

‘Enhancing Threatened Species Habitat to Provide Safe Passage for Urban koalas is aimed at restoring and extending the Koala corridor between Southern Cross University and the Wilsons River in Lismore. The teams will be working on SCU land and Lismore City Council’s City View Drive Reserve.

The first team is increasing the awareness of the presence of Koalas and the risks they face in an urban setting amongst residents adjoining the Koala habitat by delivering two of our brochures – Koala Facts and Responsible Dog Ownership and Koalas into their mailboxes.. A second team, commencing in late January 2017 will continue the work that has been started.

Three new Koala plantations will have been planted before the project ends. The team have and will continue to assist Landcare member to restore Koala habitat on private land. Groups that have been assisted include; Caniaba, Boatharbour, Jiggi and Monaltrie Landcare.

25th Anniversary Landcare Grants 2014/2015

FOK received $19,070 for this project, completed in June 2016, which is the first stage in a strategic approach to facilitate koala movement between Lismore’s urban and rural populations. Friends of the Koala (FOK) will work with Lismore City Council (LCC), Southern Cross University (SCU) & private landowners to restore koala corridors through natural area restoration and community education. The project will strive to educate & involve the local community on issues such as garden waste dumping, garden plant selection & responsible pet ownership.

The long-term goal is to see a reduction in the incidence of diseased and injured koalas coming into care because of physical injuries and stress related diseases, and to enhance existing core koala habitat for the benefit of the Lismore population. The project will assist stakeholders to manage landscapes sustainably to protect high profile habitat for the iconic koala on 8.5ha. Three hundred koala food trees were planted in gaps to enhance koala habitat and increase biodiversity on the 27ha of SCU land.

The project provided an opportunity to increase awareness of nearby Lismore residents to the existence of Koala populations and their habitat and the issues facing them, with emphasis on dog control. Funds enabled FOK to update and reprint their Koala Facts brochure.

Enhancing refuges & corridors for threatened species in Lismore

Funding was received in 2016 through the NSW Environmental Trust to restore Koala habitat and connectivity between remnants on public land in East Lismore. The project, Enhancing refuges & corridors for threatened species in Lismore, is funded for three years and covers seven sites with a total of 28 hectares targeted for restoration works. The total value of the project is $99,000.

This project will take a strategic approach to increasing habitat connectivity between Koala populations surviving on the urban fringe from Southern Cross University (SCU) to the Wilson River. By minimising risks to dispersing koalas and facilitating movement between core koala habitats, genetic integrity will be maintained, with an aim of establishing a more resilient population. The protection of this corridor connection is assured due to linkages being formed between protected reserves and areas that are too steep or flood prone to warrant development.

Immediate success will see a reduction in weed densities enabling unrestricted movement by Koalas between food trees. It is anticipated that there will be an increase in Koalas using the SCU to Wilson River riparian corridor with greater habitat connectivity between urban & rural populations. Success will be evident when current and proposed koala corridor projects begin to link. Long term success would see a gradual decline in the number of koalas coming into care suffering from stress related disorders and trauma caused by dogs and motor vehicles.

Green Army are assisting by planting Koala Food Trees in areas void of vegetation and by distributing Koala Facts and Responsible Dog Ownership brochures to homes adjoining the SCU estate.

Community and school education forms an important component of the project. Landowners adjoining restoration areas will be encouraged to be proactive in the fight to minimise weeds, specifically ‘garden escapees’. Three schools, all with Koalas in their school grounds, will be involved. These schools are Albert Park, Wilson Park and Wyrallah Road Public Schools.

Project partners are Southern Cross University, Lismore City Council, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Lismore Workers Golf Club and Rous Water.

Lismore City Council Annual Community Grants Scheme 2015/16

FOK has provided a community service for over 30 years supplying the community with Koala food trees (KFT) of local provenance as well as technical information relating to koala habitat enhancement. Due to the increased demand for KFTs over the past 18 months, particularly for government-funded programs (e.g. Green Army) FOK’s nursery capacity needs to be increased. Successful Green Army team sponsorship and partnering with other Green Army project sponsors has increased FOK’s capacity to propagate trees for team planting and distributing to the community.

To this end, Friends of the Koala received $12,049 funding over three years from Lismore City Council to purchase and install an undercover propagation and potting area for volunteers, employment program participants and Green Army teams who work at the Care Centre nursery. These improved and expanded weather proof facilities will also allow FOK members to train participants and the community in best practice nursery techniques.

Funding also covers the purchase and installation of a rain water tank, harvesting rain from new and existing roof structures making the nursery more sustainable, refurbishing the current seedling igloo and purchasing nursery materials.

Community needs will be addressed by providing meaningful work and experience for recipients of government benefits and the Green Army. Training sessions can be arranged to teach eucalypt identification and propagation techniques.

The direct environmental benefits are establishing habitat for koalas and the revegetating koala corridors. Increased tree production will facilitate community and FOK revegetation projects and by so doing will assist in the long term survival of the Koala.