To help celebrate National Threatened Species Day and the recent adoption of the Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management by Council children from Bellingen Public School joined the Mayor and Council officers on Monday 7 September to plant koala food trees in the Ringwood Creek Reserve at North Bellingen.
Following a Welcome to Country from one of the students, Bellingen Shire Mayor, Cr Mark Troy explained the importance of caring for our local environment which is the home to many threatened species and added that National Threatened Species day occurs on 7th September each year to commemorate the death of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger at Hobart Zoo in 1936.
John Turbill from the Office of Environment and Heritage talked about the Koala Habitat Study, how to recognise male mating calls and identify koala scats before taking the children on a walk to identify existing koala trees and look for scats. The children were especially pleased to find evidence of scats under one of the trees in the Reserve and gladly took the opportunity to examine them in detail.
Council Officer Daniel Bennett explained what Council is doing to increase awareness of koalas in our environment as well as protect core koala habitat in the Bellingen Shire.
Council’s River and Biodiversity Projects Officer, Jane Eales talked about the Jaligiir Project and the threatened Giant Barred Frog before organising the children to assist planting Forest Red Gum and Swamp Mahogany koala feed trees in the Reserve.
Mayor Troy said “the Bellingen koala population forms a significant part of a regional population stretching from north of Coffs Harbour to the Nambucca River in the south. The adoption of the Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management by Council is a huge step for Council and our community, towards securing the long term protection of koalas in the Shire. We now look forward to the final approval of the Plan by the State Government and putting it into action ”.
“I am very pleased to be involved in today’s celebrations as the planting of food trees is both good for the koalas and helps to engage future generations as custodians of our local environment”, added the Mayor.
On behalf of Council, the Mayor thanked the Bellingen Primary School teachers for making the day possible as well as local Bush Regenerator Joe Losurdo, who was on hand to assist the children with the correct procedure for tree planting, watering and mulching.
The Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is listed as a vulnerable species at a state and federal level highlighting the importance of protecting and increasing its habitat and taking measures to protect it from other threats such as car strike, dogs and disease.