State government grants Port Stephens Council $30,000 to develop a fire plan for koala preservation

Port Stephens Council and the state government will seek to manage the threat of future bushfires to the koala population under a $30,000 plan.

The Port Stephens Koala Project will develop a fire management plan to manage fuel loads that lead to more high-intensity fires that koalas can’t outrun.

“With today being National Threatened Species Day it’s great to be able to mark it by securing this funding for our iconic koala,” the Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said.

“The Lone Pine fires around Karuah had a real impact last year and this money is a direct result of that.”

SURVIVAL PLAN: Port Stephens Council environmental strategist Duncan Jinks, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald and the council's general manager Wayne Wallis. Picture: Sam Norris

SURVIVAL PLAN: Port Stephens Council environmental strategist Duncan Jinks, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald and the council's general manager Wayne Wallis. Picture: Sam Norris

More than 9000 hectares of koala habitat from Balickera, Twelve Mile Creek and Karuah was burnt in the high temperature fire.

Port Stephens Koalas were involved in rescue efforts after the fire had passed.

“Koalas are undoubtedly one of Port Stephens’ most iconic and most important natural assets and the threats to koala habitat and populations are very real and concerning,” the council’s general manager Wayne Wallis said.

“This grant demonstrates the government’s support of council’s commitment to preserving koala habitat and protecting this treasured natural asset.”

Recent studies in the Port Stephens area have identified the importance of koala hubs and corridors to sustain the species.

The NSW Scientific Committee has been so concerned it has produced a preliminary recommendation to have the Port Stephens population listed as endangered.

“This finding presents us with an opportunity to address the decline,” Mr Wallis said. 

“One of the ways we’re doing this is with the koala hospital at Treescape [holiday park] and we’ve been talking to Mr MacDonald about these grant opportunities.”

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the $30,000 grant was but one of 19 projects the government had put toward the iconic species this year, under the Saving Our Species Program.

“The NSW Government is committed to coordinating efforts to stabilise and ultimately increase the numbers of koalas across NSW,” she said.

“A whole-of-government koala strategy is being developed to achieve this.”

The strategy is one of Chief Scientist Mary O’Kane’s recommendation to increase knowledge of the species, their habitat and threats to their survival.

Mr MacDonald also announced $226,542 toward the management of public reserves across the Port Stephens electorate as part of its annual allocation.

It included $29,960 for dunal and koala habitat restoration at One Mile Beach. This follows the $28,583 announcement in August last year for work at the same site.

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