Following a horrific summer for the koala population, there is a renewed push in Port Stephens to save the iconic marsupial from extinction by planting 40,000 feed-trees over the next 12 months.
The ambitious plan has the backing of a number of key stakeholders and interest groups who have banded together in an concerted effort to halt the rapidly declining population in an area once considered to be the koala capital of NSW.
The Port Stephens koala population has suffered terribly in recent months with larger than usual loss of life due to bushfires, drought and the ever present and ongoing destruction of habitat through development.
The Tilligerry peninsula's environmental lobbyist Fran Corner is facilitating a 'Saving our Species' forum to set in motion the strategy required to plant three species of eucalyptus trees culminating in a massive promotion on National Tree Day (July 28).
Ms Corner's mission is to transform Port Stephens into the koala habitat it once was, "or else there will be serious consequences". She particularly wants to see the younger people involved.
"The concept has the support of Port Stephens Koalas, Office of the Environment, Port Stephens Council, Worimi Conservation Lands, community, interest groups and individuals," Ms Corner said.
"A forum/workshop to plan the tree planting will be held at the Murrook centre in Williamtown on Thursday, February 28, with lunch provided and we welcome all-comers.
"It is hoped that we can get representatives from each of the prominent koala habitat areas - Tomaree, Tilligerry, Williamtown/Fern Bay, Medowie and Karuah - and identify up to 10 sites to commence the tree planting. Both the Ngioka Centre and Tilligerry Habitat will be providing the saplings."
Ms Corner said that it was imperative to re-establish koala habitat corridors, and that the time was now to begin the regrowth.
Worimi Conservation Lands CEO Andrew Smith said that the plan had the full support of the Worimis. "There is a heightened sense of responsibility for all residents of Port Stephens to protect the landscape and wildlife of the area, including the koala."
Mr Smith said that the Worimi Green Team had just completed the planting of 1500 koala feed trees in a section near the Lavis Lane sand dune entry as part of a rehabilitation project and remediation work commissioned by Lend Lease.
Port Stephens Koalas member Paul Holmquest, from Lemon Tree Passage, said the project would be relying on the various Landcare and other volunteer groups to fulfill the 40,000-tree quota.
"The latest scientific estimates each koala needs around 1,000 trees for feed, so this is a massive project requiring all the support we can get."
He said that Port Stephens Koalas welcomed the initiative from Ms Corner.