Identifying koala habitat on the Tweed Coast
Tweed Shire Council has long been proactive in its management of local koala population and koala conservation initiatives. Its Tweed Coast Koala Plan of Management (KPOM) identifies areas with potential to add to existing koala habitats and rehabilitation sites on the Tweed Coast.
NSW Government and Tweed Council join in ongoing projects for koalas
An involved and enthusiastic community recognises that each koala is precious and will actively work with council to help ensure protection of this locally-endangered species.
Since 2015 Tweed Council has benefitted from state government funding under the NSW Koala Strategy to support projects to identify and establish new koala habitats.
Three funded projects are:
- Dog attack mitigation
- Habitat restoration
- Managing dog attacks
Tweed Council is also part of a partnership with the NSW Koala Strategy and Tweed, Byron, Ballina and Lismore councils and Friends of the Koala. This funding totals $450,000 over three years.
A key strategy is to identify and support high priority koala sites in private ownership. Many are located alongside already-identified existing koala habitats and rehabilitation sites on the Tweed Coast.
In 2018 the call went out to private landholders, aiming to not only fill gaps if existing sites became unavailable but also to allow for significant land additions and linking of priority habitat areas. This also aimed to add to the network of landholders already involved in habitat restoration within the KPOM.
Government funding was allocated for habitat restoration, including a commitment to plant more than 1700 trees. Together, the result is an additional 3.1 ha of koala habitat, a clear bonus in the recovery of the Tweed Coast koala population.
Needless to say, nature put roadblocks such as floods and fires in front of these activities and delayed project outcomes. However, priority sites were identified and landowner agreements and contractors were sorted.
The main properties of high significance through private landowners include land in the Cudgen Lake Koala Activity Precinct adjoining and adjoins Cudgen Nature Reserve and in the Round Mountain Koala Linkage Precinct.
Towards the end of 2018, planting of more than 240 trees along with fencing upgrades was completed as part of a commitment to plant and maintain 2000 trees across four private properties.
Council still actively encourages private landowners to work with them to build and maintain koala habitat with advice on tree selection and landscaping. The call is still out for large-scale landowners in high priority areas to become part of formal koala habitat restoration projects.
Community awareness strategy
With such a committed and engaged community, Tweed Council’s community awareness falls onto already willing ears. However, there are key issues that affect koala conservation throughout Tweed Shire, and community awareness was key to the project.
A professional, well informed community awareness strategy stressed that human activity seriously impacts already fragile and fragmented koala populations.
Areas where the community could assist included avoiding car strikes and dog-related injuries.
The Good Bushland Neighbours (GBN) project aims to help dog owners make the right choices. With habitat loss – now exacerbated through the summer fires – koalas spend more time on the ground moving between trees at greater risk of dog attack.
GBN-aware owners are encouraged to keep their dogs on-lead in koala reserves, generally adjacent to urban areas, and to prevent them roaming.
Agile signage and media communication raises awareness of koala movements during breeding season, aiming to slow drivers down in koala-habitat areas.
The council remains committed to critical koala recover actions including fire management, traffic management and ongoing habitat restoration.