THE final report of the volunteer Eurobodalla Koalas project pilot study released on News Year’s Day finds a lot needs to be done before koalas can ever exist in the district again.
But the good news is that koala habitat still exists including around Narooma.
Coordinator Keith Joliffe said project priorities for 2013 were to encourage major stakeholders to join in a funding application for a full 2014-2016 follow-through research project.
The project hopes to conduct a 10-plot, ground-proofing survey expedition to the Bendethera/Dampier Mountain area in Deua National Park in May.
Community members and agency employees have been invited to help with these activities, he said.
“Ongoing local knowledge collection is one of the best things happening,” Mr Joliffe said.
“Serious collaborative action between private landholders, government agencies, researchers and community groups is urgently required if koalas are ever to be seen again in the wild inside the Eurobodalla's borders.”
The area marked as suitable for koala habitat in the mapping around the Narooma and Gulaga Mountain area was very interesting and was not all that far from the Bermagui koala population, he said.
“It seems to suggest koalas might well revive there if the right protections were in place,” he said.
“Private landholders, Forests NSW, NPWS, RTA and ESC would all have to play their part.”
The final report concludes:
“Except for the August 2012 Cadgee sightings, which might represent a dispersing animal, there is so far no evidence of koalas persisting in the Eurobodalla since the 2009 Nerrigundah sightings.
“The impression is that Eurobodalla koala numbers, always sparse since the mid-20th Century, were at a critical point by about the year 2000.
“The pilot study’s exploratory derived GIS map appears to show patterns of higher quality potential browse species mix in the Shire’s South East (Moruya and Bodalla State Forests), and medium quality potential browse species mix in the Shire’s West (Deua National Park).
“These patches appear large enough to sustain low-density resident groups. “Connectivity between Eurobodalla patches and with patches in adjacent LGAs appears variable. Large areas of low quality potential browse species mix appear across the Shire. There appear to be isolated pockets of high, medium, low and nil potential browse species mix elsewhere across the landscape. All these conclusions need to be revisited through a more robust analysis, however.”
The Eurobodalla Koalas project report in full including maps can be found at the South Coast Wildlife Observation & Educational Tours Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/187171881416765/