Volunteers to replenish koala habitat as worry grows for species

February 25, 2022 BY

Koala sightings on the Bellarine are non-existent according to BLG facilitator Sophie Small as a result of population growth and land development. Photo: BELLARINE LANDCARE GROUP

BELLARINE Landcare Group’s (BLG) mission to replenish environments of the region’s depleted koala population will receive a much-needed kick on February 28 when a band of volunteers will make their way down to Wallington for a joint event.

National volunteering body, Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA), will coordinate 30 volunteers to help preserve and maintain a key ‘Koala Corridors’ Project site along Lake Connewarre.

The event is the third activity so far conducted by CVA as part of the organisation’s Revive Our Wetlands initiative with more to come.

The project was set in motion after 2,000 native trees were planted in 2020 on an escarpment next to Lake Connewarre funded by the Victorian Landcare Grant of 2019/20.

The trees, once grown, will then hopefully habitat native koala species in the region as they used to.

“Participants on the day will take part in active stewardship including removing vine guards and bamboo stakes, organising them for reuse and taking part in ecological assessments of progression and growth,” CVA project officer Henry Kisby said.

“With over 95 per cent of remnant vegetation cleared on the Bellarine, remaining indigenous vegetation is extremely important for biodiversity conservation.

“Therefore, it is important that groups like the BLG – who promote biodiversity and the sustainable use of the land and water resources to create a healthy and natural environment across the Bellarine Peninsula – are well supported.”

Three states along the East Coast, Queensland, NSW, and A.C.T, have designated the koala species as endangered.

“In Victoria, koalas face the same threats, namely habitat loss and fragmentation,” Mr Kisby added.

“It is key that approaches to koala management remain active and supported to ensure Victoria’s koala populations and habitat are secure, healthy and sustainable.”

BLG has been committed to preserving the wetland habitats by protecting and enhancing the surrounding catchment areas for over 27 years.

Facilitator at BLG Sophie Small said without planting back habitat, securing the survival of koalas in the region will not be an option.

“Without native vegetation koalas and a whole range of other native animals struggle to survive,” Ms Small said.

“Koalas have declined to the extent that they may be no longer present on the Bellarine. We have had no reported sightings of local Koalas for a couple of years.

“In particular we’ve learnt the importance of putting the right gum trees around creeks and dams to ensure the trees have enough moisture in their leaves to allow koalas to survive increasingly hot summers.

“We are very grateful for Conservation Volunteers’ assistance. The extra helping hands will make all the difference to landholders and ensure that the revegetation project is a success.”

Participants meeting on the day at 598 Wallington-Ocean Grove Road will also take part in documenting bird sightings as part of the event.

For more information contact Henry at [email protected], or call 0428 233 266.