Forum to put koalas in focus

September 10, 2023 BY

Spotted: Koalas are regularly seen in Union Jack Reserve in Buninyong. Photo: CAROL HALL

A FORUM to discuss the presence of koalas in Ballarat, and their future, will be held at the Eureka Centre next week.

Hosted by Friends of Canadian Corridor, the event will be held on Thursday 14 September from 5.30pm to 8pm, with guest speakers.

Presenters will include Deakin University senior wildlife and conservation lecturer Dr Desley Whissen, CSIRO principal research scientist Dr Cathy Robertson, and University of Melbourne student Louise Jory.

FOCC member Jo Kelly is one of the group’s key volunteer koala monitors and said it’s important the community gains an understanding of the presence of the animals, which have been located in the area from Canadian, through Woowookarung Regional Park and its periphery, to Buninyong.

“As a group, we’ve had 300 koala sightings over five years,” she said. “Your average person isn’t going to see them moving around, but the main thing is that they are there.

“We can see very clear patterns when we put up their locations on iNaturalist, and extract a beautiful, visual picture of all the koalas we’ve seen, which are all down the eastern corridor of Ballarat, where the remaining bush is.

“They will come into the urban fringe areas. It’s a bit scary that they do lose their way sometimes and have been sighted, or rescued, from weird places, like a pine tree in Skipton Street.

“If we chop down their habitat, if we don’t give them space, if we don’t treat them kindly, they won’t have anywhere to live, breed, and eat, and they’ll move out and die.”

With the City of Ballarat currently the only municipality in Victoria with an official Koala Plan of Management, acting director of infrastructure and environment Les Stokes is also set to speak at the forum, and will aim to outline a new biodiversity strategy and initiatives to protect koala habitat.

After the forum, FOCC members plan to seek new ideas to protect and enhance koala habitat, which could feed into the City’s Biodiversity Strategy and improve the Koala Plan of Management.