Kempsey based Macleay Landcare Network has received a Konica Minolta Landcare Grant to help implement its Tree Change for Koalas project. The goal is to grow plants that will eventually restore koala habitat and compensate its population decline due to the recent bush fires.
The NSW recognises the Macleay Valley as being part of an 'Area of Regional Koala Significance'. However, local studies suggest that koalas in this area, like so many others across Australia, are in decline due to numerous factors.
Andy Vinter, Landcare Officer with the Macleay Landcare Network said there is a desire in the community to protect the koala population.
"The increasing awareness of the decline in koala populations is driving a desire in the community to support conservation efforts by increasing koala food and habitat by conducting re-vegetation plantings," he said.
This project will support the capacity of three volunteer-run community nurseries to grow and supply appropriate koala food and habitat tree species according to provenance and land type.
The participating nurseries are the Pandanus Nursery, located at South West Rocks, Grassy Head Nursery and the Bass'n'Bull Native Plant Nursery in Bellbrook.
There is evidence that koalas have a unique gut microflora adapted to digest local grown trees. Based on this, the three nurseries involved in the project will specifically grow plants from locally collected seed.
According to Andy, the koala food and habitat trees will be propagated in the nurseries and then distributed to landholders and relevant local community groups for revegetation projects in the Macleay Valley.
"These revegetated areas will provide an additional refuge for Koala during times of natural disaster. It's a long term strategy as it takes years for the trees to grow big enough to feed a healthy koala population," Andy said.
The grant is funded by Konica Minolta employee donations and company matching. The project is also receiving significant in-kind support from local partners. Volunteers will contribute approximately 1000 hours participating in project activities.
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