Koala sighted – but where’s the monitoring?

Last week the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) reported a koala had been sighted on the Dr George Mountain road, between Bega and Tanja. According to Senior Threatened Species Officer Chris Allen, the sighting ‘contributes to building a more accurate picture of what is happening with the koala population in the region’.

Allen goes on to say “ . . . This sighting also supplements OEH’s five-year conservation project, Corridors and Core Habitat for Koalas (CCHFK), funded by the Australian Government’s Biodiversity Fund, which undertakes surveys and monitoring, promotes fire management improvements, and habitat rehabilitation.”

Exactly what region Mr Allen is referring to is unclear, although it is clear that requests for information on the project will be ignored. The only apparent certainties about the project are that monitoring has not been put in place, fire management hasn’t improved and as the proponents have not considered die-back in any form, talk of habitat rehabilitation is a poor joke, in bad taste.

Allen urged drivers to slow down as ‘There are several areas where we know they are likely to be crossing the roads’ although there are no signs on Dr George road. However the chances of an animal being hit on this road would seem small, relative to the regular animal carnage that occurs on the Bermagui-Tathra road.

habitat decline 1Co-coinciding with the sighting, the ABC reported on calls for a ‘radical overhaul’ of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy, that is currently under review. Comment from critics include its failure to address the loss of heritage, no commitment to prevent extinction and the failure to establish a long term biodiversity monitoring and reporting system.

None of this comes as a surprise because the strategy is totally dependent on whether state government policies to maintain and improve biodiversity actually work. As indicated in the photo above, the loss of eucalyptus habitat is ongoing, but the CCHFK’s  proponents show no interest.

Perhaps explaining part of this lack of interest is a similar lack of interest in logging industry and the conservation movement. The latter being more interested in people cutting trees down, as indicated in the Bega District News, reporting on a protest about Bega Shire Council’s decision to remove the last eucalyptus trees in the center of town.

Present at the protest was local government green’s councilor Keith Hughes, also Council’s representative on the Biamanga and Gulaga national parks board of management.

While the koala sighting appears to have been in the heavily degraded Mimosa Rocks NP, there is an argument that community involvement in the monitoring of koalas and biodiversity, in National Parks and elsewhere, is desirable.

Regrettably conservationists are reluctant to pursue this course, for whatever reason and greater community involvement is unlikely to occur while this attitude persists.

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