Murrah flora reserves work toward rebuilding koala population on the South Coast

A RARE SIGHT: A koala spotted in the Murrah flora reserves in August last year. Photo: David Gallan
A RARE SIGHT: A koala spotted in the Murrah flora reserves in August last year. Photo: David Gallan

The Murrah flora reserves have missed out on a recent $800,000 boost from the NSW Government for koala conservation projects.

The flora reserves were converted from state forests last year in an effort to protect the natural diet and habitat of native wildlife, including the South Coast's last known koala colony.

Stretching over 11,800 ha, the reserves consist of what were previously the Murrah, Tanja and Mumbulla state forests, and the southern half of the Bermagui State Forest.

While none of the $800,000 boost will make it to the South Eastern corner of the state, the original allocation of $2.5 million in March 2016 has allowed the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to make the first steps in the right direction.

Koala habitat rehabilitation within the reserves is being researched by the NSW Government's Saving our Species program, in addition to continuous surveillance of the current koala population.

An Aboriginal Field Officer with cultural connections to the area has also been employed, and plans for cultural burning with the Yuin people is underway to benefit both wildlife and property. 

Two hazard reduction burns have been conducted, covering an area of 750 ha.

The fire management strategy was developed with Melbourne University and the Rural Fire Service.

The funding has also assisted other work, such as new signage, road maintenance and feral animal control.

The hope is the koala population will grow and sightings of the native animal will increase in time.

In addition to the funding for the Murrah flora reserves, the NSW Government committed to spending another $10 million to acquire known koala habitats across the state by 2021.

Koala populations and habitats are fragile and especially vulnerable to land clearing for urban development and logging.

The funding is sure to protect some areas, but Kevin Evans, CEO to non-government conservation group National Parks Association, says using the funds to deter human impact would be more effective than purchasing land.

“We would be better using the $10 million to buy out timber contracts, transition affected workers and create the infrastructure necessary for local economies to benefit from nature-based tourism," Mr Evans in a statement. 


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