Koalas becoming more vulnerable

Of the many visitors to Eastern Forest Nursery in South Gundarimba, those guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of staff members are koalas.

Nursery owner Humphrey Herington decided he wanted to give a hand to this struggling species so he approached Friends of the Koala with an idea. He offered to grow 2500 food trees (forest red gum, tallowwood and swamp mahogany) for the koala care centre.

“I’m aware koala habitat is diminishing in this area and Friends of the Koala had been buying seedling supplies from the nursery for years so I’m very happy to be able to do something to help out,” Humphrey said.

Local land owners Tracey and Wal Filicietti have made five acres of their McKees Hill property available to establish the plantation. Staff from Eastern Forest Nursery prepared the land and helped volunteers plant the seedlings. The Felicietti family also offered to provide ongoing maintenance of the plantation.

Tracey Filicietti has sourced 1000 litre tree guards and stakes donated by Sydney company All Stake Supply to protect the trees from frost.

Rick Stewart, co-ordinator of Friends of the Koala’s leaf-collecting team, said more sick and injured koalas were coming in to the organisation, particularly due to Chlamydia and a retrovirus which is similar to HIV.

“This is really serious, we’re in danger of losing our koala population We’re seeing about four times the number of diseased koalas as we did in 2002,” Rick said. “It is partnerships and donations like these that enable us to meet the specific nutritional requirements of all the koalas that come into our care each year. Leaf collecting for koalas is always a challenge, but now thanks to these good people, we’ll have a better chance to ensure an ongoing and reliable food source for all the koalas that come into our care.

Rick is looking for anyone in the Lismore area who might have some forest red gum, tallowwood or swamp mahogany that they could harvest right now. Call him on 0405 775 884 if you can help.

The koala is currently being considered by the federal government for listing under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The public exhibition period closes on June 9. Environment Minister Peter Garrett expects to receive the Threatened Species Scientific Committee’s recommendation by the end of September 2010.

Friends of the Koala encourages everyone to have a careful look at the nomination and to submit a submission which at least urges a vulnerable listing under the EPBC Act. The document can be downloaded from:

http://www.environment

.gov.au/biodiversity/

threatened/species/koala-

nomination.html


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