In an interesting development Environment Minister Burke has recently announced they will be researching the ” . . use of a new aerial imaging technique for assessing habitat quality for koalas across eastern Australia.”
EM Burke points out that ‘ Koalas are fussy eaters: they choose certain leaves to ensure they get enough nutrients and to avoid toxic chemicals. A few, key chemicals are found in these leaves and thought to explain why koalas select particular trees and prefer certain landscapes.’
The ‘high-resolution hyperspectral remote sensing technology’ is suggested to be able to identify a few hecatres of koala habitat. However, the test is whether it can adequately differentiate between primary habitat, lots of preferred feed species per hectare and secondary koala habitat, very few feed species per hectare.
The south east of NSW and the ACT, would seem to provide an ideal testing location for the technology given the distribution of island and endemic koalas is limited and a positive outcome could be the OE&H reviewing their ongoing claims that koalas are everywhere.
On the genetics issue, outcomes of recent studies have found koalas went through a ‘genetic bottle-neck’ about 50,000 years ago, in the late Pleistocene, around the time Aboriginals arrived and the mega-fauna went extinct.
It seems likely that current threats to koalas out number those operating in the late Pleistocene.