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Southern Highlands home to over 3,000 koalas

6 March, 2017Posted in: Environment
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Wingecarribee Shire Council has welcomed an announcement from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) estimating that over 3000 koalas reside in the Southern Highlands.

Council’s Environmental Projects Officer Joe Stammers said the official population estimate is a result of work of the Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project which is funded by Council’s Environment Levy and the NSW Government’s Saving Our Species program.

“For the first time we have an accurate picture of the koalas of the Southern Highlands and can confirm it’s the largest population in southern NSW,” said Mr Stammers.

“We were quietly confident that we had a substantial population, but the data confirms what we had long suspected,” said Mr Stammers.

The official estimate suggests that our Shire is home to one of the most significant koala populations in New South Wales representing approximately 10 per cent of the total number of koalas left in the state’s wild.

“We were aware of well-established koala populations in the Nattai and Yerrinbool areas,” said Mr Stammers.  “But this latest data shows us that there are also populations in East Mittagong, Canyonleigh, Belanglo, East Kangaloon and Wingello.”

Mr Stammers said that this was the first time the OEH had provided an official estimate on the number of koalas in the Southern Highlands.

“Over the past 18 months we have completed 450 spotlight surveys, fitted 20 GPS tracking collars to individual koalas and received over 150 community sightings reported through Council’s Koala Hotline and the Southern Highlands Koala Conservation Project Facebook page,” Mr Stammers said. “We’ve also undertaken vegetation surveys to map koala habitat and preferred tree use which will help us identify essential koala corridors across the Shire.”

The research is also informing the development of the NSW Government’s Koala Strategy with six new tree species in the Southern Highlands being added to a proposed expanded list of primary koala habitat trees protected under environmental legislation.

The conservation project is set to expand over the next year, with the NSW Government’s Saving Our Species program announcing a further $95,000 to fund an additional 100 koala spotlight surveys in neighbouring Wollondilly Shire.

To report koala sightings call 4868 0888 or visit facebook.com/SouthernHighlandsKoalas.

For more information: www.wsc.nsw.gov.au/koalas