Shock statists show koala population decline
A ROOMFUL of experts have gathered in Noosa for a symposium to bring back the koala locally after the revelation populations here and in southeast Queensland have declined by 68 per cent from 1999 to 2010.
The Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation hosted its Koala Symposium on Saturday identifying priority actions needed to bring back Noosa’s wild population.
And the sobering report to the gathering was despite the mighty efforts from local wildlife rescue groups and recent research has providing significant insights, the verdict is the future of Noosa’s koala population remains uncertain with the local population listed as vulnerable.
Key threats to the local wild koala population in urban areas include loss of habitat, dog attacks, car strikes and disease, among other issues.
NBRF director and koala project lead, Dr David Dique said it was time to bring experts together.
“It has been more than five years since recognised koala specialists in Noosa discussed important management priorities,” said Dr Dique.
“Since this time, we have new information from research, an overarching conservation framework from Noosa Council and a willingness from the community to do something.
“This symposium was an opportunity to engage those already involved in koala conservation and management in Noosa to help define the priority actions needed.”
The symposium prepared a draft prospectus to be reviewed by recognised koala specialists in Australia, what the NBRF using this to seek and allocate funding investment to organisations that can implement the actions.
“The NBRF has been working closely with the University of the Sunshine Coast to better understand Noosa’s koala population and health,” Dr Dique said.
“We’ve gathered significant insights from mapping the koala habitat network and genetic diversity and now we have an opportunity to take the next important step.
“There are many groups and organisations in our region committed to protecting koalas in the Noosa Biosphere Reserve, yet we know there are some gaps where increased effort would assist in securing their long-term survival.”
A symposium forum also identified on-ground actions required to support koala conservation, care and research and to close the gap between the good work already being done by various organisations in the Noosa region.
Representatives groups included Noosa Shire and Sunshine Coast Councils, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, Landcare, Wildcare Australia SEQ, Koala Tracker, Endeavour Vet Ecology and Queensland Koala Crusaders.
“We wanted input from a diverse group including councils, scientists, conservation and care and rescue groups with local Noosa knowledge and experience to better understand where those gaps are and what the key priorities should be,” Dr Dique said.
“During the forum specific actions were identified for habitat protection and enhancement, landscape connectivity and improved management of threatening process such as impacts from cars and dogs. However, it was clear there is much work to be done.
“It was energising to see a range of backgrounds come together and collaborate with a shared goal in mind – it was a highly productive and valuable day,” said Dr Dique.
He thanked the groups who committed their time and knowledge to the weekend’s symposium.
“It was a true sign of our community’s willingness to collaborate and work together to save Noosa’s koala,” he said.
“It is not something we will achieve on our own and I am confident we will benefit from a co-ordinated and strategic effort in the future.” he said.
For more information on the Koala Project, visit www.noosabiosphere.org.au.