Restoring and protecting habitat for koalas

Bangalow Koalas

The Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is one of Australia’s most iconic species, with its fluffy ears and spoon shaped nose. Koalas inhabit 4 Australian states however koala numbers have significantly declined due to loss of eucalyptus forests from wildfires and land clearing for agriculture, urban development, mining and forestry. 2019-2020 was devastating for koalas with wildfires that burned more than 37 million acres across southeast Australia, killing and displacing an estimated 3.5 billion animals. Urban encroachment is also making koalas vulnerable to dog attacks, vehicle strikes, disease and stress.
Koalas are arboreal marsupials meaning they live in trees. They consume the leaves from only 35 of the 600 eucalypt species so the loss of these important food trees is pushing koalas towards extinction.
Photo credit: Louise O'Brien
Bangalow Koalas Inc. is a registered environmental charity based in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Established in 2016 to protect koalas through the creation of koala wildlife corridors, the organization maps koala sightings and food trees and is focused on educating and empowering local communities in replanting, protecting and expanding the habitat of koalas and other species. They have coordinated the planting over 73,000 trees thereby restoring koala habitat and connectivity between forest fragments that helps koalas to survive and to disperse out of urban areas. Their aim is to plant a two hundred and fifty thousand trees by 2025.
Bangalow Koalas works with local councils, Landcare groups, community groups, landholders and local communities. They also provide education to local schools and at community markets to encourage wider action to protect koalas. Most recently they have been involved in lobbying state politicians as the NSW Government is progressing changes that will weaken protections for koalas. The amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (herein Koala SEPP) were passed in the lower house and intense lobbying efforts saw the bill blocked the Upper House for now. The reforms would likely increase unregulated logging of koala habitat and prevent habitat protection on private farmland and land allocated to new housing developments. This is significantly undermines koala conservation as the majority 90% of koalas live on private land, so expanded protection is necessary to prevent localised extinctions.
A koala on a tree

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