Saving the last koalas

The forests from Dignams Creek to Wapengo on the south coast of New South Wales are home to the last few endemic koalas in the South East Corner Bioregion (SECB). Koalas are a key indicator of forest health and the last few animals are constrained to forests growing on the Murrah soil landscape.

This remnant and genetically significant population was nominated as endangered and likely to become extinct in 2001. Despite the fact that there had been no other evidence of koalas, the NSW Scientific Committee believed the claims of the NSW Government agencies, that koalas can be found everywhere and in 2007 rejected the nomination.

Native forests in these steep coastal catchments have been subject to intensive and unsustainable logging over the past 30 years. Reduced biodiversity coupled with logging and broad acre burning have degraded the soils and initiated the process of deforestation.

The dispersion of water holding soil materials (clays) over decades has reduced soil water holding capacity on ridges and slopes causing tree Dieback Associated with Dry weather and Drought (DADD). Bell-Miner Associated Dieback (BMAD) affects many forests in gullies and along streams. Deforestation and koala extinction are inevitable under current management.

What is needed and proposed is to incorporate environmental science within the currently dominant economic and social paradigm and the development of a credible scientific approach to forest and catchment management to maintain and improve biodiversity, address soil degradation and restore koala habitat.

Koalas from Dignams to Wapengo are genetically related to the Strzelecki population in Victoria and the closest ‘natural’ population in New South Wales are a long way to the north.

Restoring forest biodiversity is required if koalas are to survive in eastern Australia and supporting these efforts is easy at “The sustainable timber shop“.


© – Work on this blog is copyright – Robert Bertram, 2013

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