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The Cove and the Koala

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dougkSat, 06/08/2016 - 1:05pm

When I first began visiting North Arm Cove I heard stories of koalas within the village and that someone was keeping a record of local koala sightings. But then for years it seems we had no new sightings in the village. In my walks in the bush around the Cove I've looked in vain for signs of koalas. I was, with sorrow, quite prepared to accept that there were no more Cove koalas. That was until this past week.

NSW koalas were placed on the vulnerable species list in 2012. Urban development across the state has led to habitat loss, dog attacks and road-kill. Climate change has added further stress. The outlook for this species has been described, by some, as apocalyptic. Changes in our Cove environment have not helped. Particularly in the past 18 months, there has been a massive reduction in the number of koala-friendly trees.

The appearance of a koala, probably in search of a mate, in the village last week has raised the prospect that a small, but hopefully viable, colony of this Australian icon survives in the bush that surrounds us. What can we do to help them to thrive? Can we shape our urban environment so that koalas can live successfully amongst us?

This is a topic explored in a pertinent article posted on The Conversation this week.

Forest Red Gum, Tallowwood, Grey Gum and in the lower areas, Swamp Mahogany, are key koala food trees. Can we preserve such of these trees that remain in the Cove and identify where we can create “corridors” to enable koalas safe passage? What can we do to reduce the risks from dogs and vehicles?

It is up to us now to protect the local representatives of this vulnerable and protected species.

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