Research into koala habitat seed balls at The Crossing, Bermagui | Photos, video

A new research project is attempting to work out the best recipe for seed balls to regenerate koala habitat between Bermagui and the Bega River.

A workshop conducted at The Crossing Land Education Centre at Bermagui on Wednesday saw 16 volunteers from the local area mixing eucalyptus seed with clay, peat, sand and a dash of cayenne pepper.

The mix of seed and clay is formed into balls that when thrown out into the bush will lay dormant until 50mm of rain of more arrives to allow the balls the break down and the seeds to sprout. The pepper is to discourage the seeds being eaten before germination.

National Parks’ senior threatened species officer and local koala expert Chris Allen explains the seed balls made at the workshop will be trialed on 30 research plots between Bermagui and Vimy Ridge on the northern bank of the Bega River.

“This workshop we are holding at The Crossing is looking at a few different approaches that we are taking to support the rehabilitation of preferred koala feed trees in the coastal forests here between Bermagui and the Bega River,” Mr Allen said. “Of those treatments, one of the most interesting for those here is the making of seed balls.”

So what is the perfect recipe for a koala feed tree seed ball? Well mix a handful of Eucalyptus longiflolia or woolly butt seed with one cup of fine sand, three cups of coco peat, five cups of clay and one-eighth of a cup of cayenne pepper. 

Place in a large, hand mixer and add water until the right consistency is reached and the clay forms into macadamia nut sized balls, complete with seed contained within.

The other preferred feed trees for the Far South Coast’s threatened koalas are monkey gum and white stringybark.

The Crossing director Dean Turner said he would also be trialing some of the koala feed seed balls in trial plots on his own conservation zones at The Crossing on the banks of the Bermagui River.

The education centre and its students have already planted more than 15,000 trees on the Landcare area that connects the Gulaga and Biamanga National Parks.

He is already using seed balls that contain a diverse mix of native plants from climbers to understory trees to climax trees to fill in the gaps between these recently planted trees.

“If the research we are doing here today is shown to be successful, I would like to see the seed balls used more in our regeneration work,” Mr Turner said.

Wednesday’s workshop was funded by the National Parks Save Our Species Program that has been allocated $100 million over five years by the NSW Government to help save threatened and iconic species such as koalas.

Related stories:

State forests south of Bermagui become flora reserves

Koala habitat connected by Crossing students 

Saving the Far South Coast’s koalas; impacts on logging

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