Koala sightings prompt calls for action

A koala sighted recently on private property at Ourimbah

Coast Community Alliance (CEA) is calling on local politicians to unite in having the Central Coast region recognised as a koala sanctuary.

CEA has long advocated for the identification and preservation of koala habitat across the region and the group has registered new sightings on a government database.

A three-month survey led by Central Coast Council staff has been completed and results should be available soon.

CEA spokesperson, Jake Cassar, said the group wants to see meaningful action towards protecting koalas on the Coast.

“There have been more than 70 registered sightings of koalas in our area over the past 20 years and the sightings have been surprisingly widespread,” he said.

“This doesn’t mean that our koalas are not at risk of localised extinction.

“We need to ensure their habitat is urgently protected and that wildlife corridors between these populations are not fragmented through development.

“CEA has officially registered sightings of koalas from Mangrove Mountain, Dooralong Valley and Kulnura, and we even have a sighting only half a kilometre from Gosford CBD.

“More recently there have been sightings at McMasters Beach, Ourimbah and in the Basin camping area in the Watagans, only a few hundred metres from where logging is taking place in Olney State Forest.”

Cassar said he met with Council staff in March 2020 to discuss a proposed survey program to identify key koala habitat across the Central Coast.

“This survey is a critical starting point to a broader program to ensure koala habitat is protected in our region,” he said.

“The field surveys took place between September and November 2020 during the koala breeding season when koalas are most vocal and able to be detected through passive recording devices.

“Council staff engaged a specialist contractor who has a device called a Koala Call Recogniser (KCR) and will analyse the results, which will be summarised in a Council report in early 2021.

“Our group was recently informed that wildlife surveys undertaken by Council staff also captured images of koalas on motion detection cameras in the Mangrove Creek area.

“Council has expressed that this information will be included in the findings of the koala survey.

“CEA also recently discovered that Brisbane Water National Park in Kariong is listed as an Area of Regional Koala Significance (ARKS), that’s why it’s so incredibly important to ensure that unsustainable development such as the Wallarah 2 Coal Project near Wyong and the proposed development by Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council on Woy Woy Rd are not allowed to destroy critical koala habitat.”

Cassar said CEA, with more than 5,000 members, would continue to push to have Central Coast region recognised as a sanctuary for koalas and not an easy target area for unsustainable development that threatens core koala habitat.

“The Coast can play a pivotal role in the overall survival of this iconic and extremely vulnerable native animal, but our elected leaders need to act now and put a stop to development in or around koala habitat in our region,” Cassar said.

“CEA has written to local State MPs in the hope that they will lobby the State and Federal Governments to urgently make it a priority to protect our local koala population, but so far we have not received any support.

“The fact that koalas will indeed become extinct in the wild if we don’t urgently stop destroying their habitat is not being debated by the government’s own scientific community.

“CEA has provided evidence that there are well established colonies across the Central Coast but there is still no official protection for their dwindling habitat.

“Have our elected leaders already forgotten about the thousands of koalas who perished in the bushfires?

“Their silence on protecting this extremely vulnerable Aussie icon is deafening.

“They must act now before it’s too late,” Cassar said.

Source:
Media release, Jan 8
Community Environmental Alliance

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