News from the Field, Press Release

Koala conservation: revegetation work to bolster habitat in the Sunshine Coast

05 Dec. 2023
Andy Howe/AWC

A significant revegetation project comprising thousands of eucalypts and other native trees being planted in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast has been undertaken. The project aims to increase habitat for the endangered Koala at Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC) Curramore Wildlife Sanctuary (Kabi Kabi country).

Up to 20 staff and skilled workforce interns from AWC and Barung Landcare spent five days planting up to 4,300 seedlings of 10 key Koala food trees and other local species across six hectares of the sanctuary. The sanctuary is located in south-east Queensland, a region which has been extensively cleared for agriculture and urban development. The land designated for reforestation was purchased by AWC in 2022, as part of a 26 hectare expansion of the sanctuary. While the central and western portion of the new section is healthy remnant forest, the eastern portion was utilised by previous owners as a cattle grazing paddock and is now a clear block with introduced pasture grasses.

 

AWC and Barung Landcare commenced a significant revegetation project comprising thousands of eucalypts and other native trees being planted in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast has been undertaken. The project aims to increase habitat for the endangered Koala at Curramore Wildlife Sanctuary (Kabi Kabi country). Wayne Lawler/AWC
AWC and Barung Landcare commenced a significant revegetation project to increase habitat for the endangered Koala at Curramore Wildlife Sanctuary (Kabi Kabi country).

 

In the months leading up to tree planting, Barung Landcare germinated and developed seedlings from seeds collected at Curramore Wildlife Sanctuary, such as Koala favourites White Mahogany (Eucalyptus acmeniodes), Flooded Gum (Eucalyptus grandis), and Queensland Blue Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis). Barung Landcare returned to the sanctuary late last month, to prepare the paddock for the 30 centimetre seedlings by slashing the towering 1.5 metre introduced pasture grasses.

Kate Seehuusen, Barung Landcare Natural Area Manager, said the week of tree planting was a workout for all but well worth the effort.

“This project is a step in the right direction for helping to strengthen our Koala populations and create corridors which will in turn help other local species.”

 

Andy Howe, AWC Senior Field Ecologist with David Walker, Managing Director of Pacific BioLogics and Melissa Kooy from Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary planting seedlings at Curramore Wildlife Sanctuary. Genevieve Deaconos/AWC
Andy Howe, AWC Senior Field Ecologist with David Walker, Managing Director of Pacific BioLogics and Melissa Kooy from Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary planting seedlings at Curramore Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

Andy Howe, AWC Senior Field Ecologist leading the reforestation project, said although revegetation has not been a major part of AWC’s program at Curramore previously, he is confident that the replanting will help improve connectivity of habitat across the sanctuary and regionally.

“This restoration project is designed to increase and connect Koala habitat at Curramore, while also encourage other wildlife, such as bandicoots, gliders and owls, to return to the revegetated area,” said Andy. “In 10 years, we want the restoration area to be starting to resemble the adjacent native forests and become habitat for a diverse community of plants and animals, and not just a monoculture plantation of eucalypts.”

“We’re planting the trees in a patch work manner, with different species in clusters rather than straight lines. Over time, as the wind and birds drop seeds, the forest will develop organically and animals, especially Koalas, will move back into the site.”

 

A section of the designated revegetation zone after two days of planting eucalypt and other local seedlings. Genevieve Deaconos/AWC
A section of the designated revegetation zone after two days of planting eucalypt and other local seedlings.

 

The revegetation work is part of a three-year Koala conservation project at AWC’s Curramore Wildlife Sanctuary and Mount Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary in northwest of Townsville. The project received grant funding from the Australian Government’s Koala Conservation and Protection Grant and includes thermal drone and bioacoustics monitoring to determine the presence and abundance of koalas at both sanctuaries.

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