OE&H – looking at koala genetics, tree growth – with double dipping

As part of its painfully slow approach to helping(?) koalas, the OE&H has made several announcements including ” . . . undertaking a study with The University of Sydney to determine the genetic status of the southern tablelands population.” Some may recall the OE&H previously engaged Sydney university to determine the genetic status of southern tablelands koalas, as part of the Cooma- Monaro koala CPoM (2004). This research was part of a broader study focused on areas in the map below.

At the time, a document prepared by OE&H employee Chris Allen, indicated two genotypes were identified and these contained halotypes also found in koalas from the Strzelecki Ranges, in south eastern Victoria and those in the greater Sydney area.

However, ” . . . there was no overlap of haplotypes between the population in the study area and the coastal forest population to the south east (D. Phalen pers. Comm.)”
Allen went on to suggest ‘ . . Further research in this field may reveal useful information about the history of koalas in the study area, and its genetic relationships with other populations.”

On this occasion the outcome may be that the history of koalas is a relatively recent one. This would explain why there is no close genetic relationship with tablelands and coastal koalas, just down the hill.

In addition the ” . . . OEH is also undertaking research funded by the Commonwealth Department of the Environment to examine the effectiveness of past koala conservation efforts”

This research will apparently include ” . . . evaluating the success of tree planting by farmers and the NSW Government in the last 20 years to provide habitat for the local koala populations on the Liverpool Plains around Gunnedah, and in Eden.”

I’m not sure about the Liverpool Plains, but there are still no reports on the now completed ‘Foundations for River Recovery and Return of Koalas to the Bega Valley’ project. So the notion that the OE&H  requires federal funding, rather than just getting the Local land Services to do their job, could be seen as more double dipping.

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