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New $200,000 Federal Grant for Koala Research
The Albanese Labor Government will spend $200,000 to better understand the koala population in and around the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA), including large parts of the Hawkesbury around Kurrajong, Grose Vale and Bilpin.
Koalas are currently listed as endangered in Queensland, NSW and the ACT. This is investment is part of the government’s $76 million Saving Koalas Fund to better protect koalas and repair koala habitat.
The funding comes amidst calls from wildlife groups to do more to protect koalas from habitat destruction caused by property development, particularly on Sydney’s urban fringe. “We are in a war and we are losing it and we are losing it badly…And the war is the rapid development that’s seeing koala habitat cut down,” WIRES koala rescuer Morgan Philpott told the Hawkesbury Post earlier this year.
The new funding will be used to survey koalas and monitor their movements, helping reduce the threat posed by informing fire management strategies.
The project will include koala habitat restoration across five private properties, helping to create safer passages for koalas to breed and forage. It will also use analysis of koala droppings (scat analysis) to identify disease, utilise community events to increase local engagement and koala awareness and use community capacity to care for local koalas.
“No-one wants to imagine an Australia without koalas. The Albanese Labor Government is making sure our kids and grandkids will still be able to see koalas in the wild,” Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek said.
“Communities across Australia play a crucial role in protecting and conserving this beloved animal. This funding is about supporting local groups to do what they do best – getting communities involved in protecting this iconic species,” she said.
The project will be run by Science for Wildlife and its Executive Director, Dr Kellie Leigh, and includes Groot the talented scat tracking dog.
They have already revealed so much that we didn’t know about koalas in the region, and I’m excited to see this support,” Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman said.
“The koala populations in the GBMWHA are nationally significant, but many colonies are undocumented. The new work will help understand where and how they are surviving, and help restore important areas that provide refuge from fire and climate change,” she said.
In September this year it was revealed that four years worth of vital wildlife rescue data used to help guide property development approvals was missing, leaving hundreds of threatened and endangered species, including koalas unrecorded across the state. Wildlife rescue group WIRES described the data gap as a “gift” to property developers who would be able to gain approvals for development projects based on inaccurate evidence of endangered species.