World Wildlife Day - recovering key species

Tablelands Telegraph - March 2022

With World Wildlife Day theme this year “Recovering key species for ecosystem restoration”, you may hear the words threatened, endangered or vulnerable thrown around a lot when we are talking about plants or animals. For example, you may have heard on the news lately that koalas were recently listed as an endangered species in NSW.

But what does that mean? And what work are we undertaking to restore koala habitat?

Plants and animals are assessed if they are at a risk of extinction and then categorised so legislated conservation actions can be developed for their protection The NSW Biodiversity Act has categories such as:

  • Vulnerable – facing a high risk of extinction in the medium-term future.
  • Endangered – facing a very high risk of extinction in the near future.
  • Critically Endangered – facing an extremely high risk or extinction in the immediate future.
  • Presumed extinct – no reasonable doubt that the last member of the species in Australia has died.

As new data becomes available, species can be recategorised as seen recently with koalas. Since 2021, koalas have been listed as vulnerable, until February this year when they were officially listed as endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) 1999.

In the Central Tablelands we’ve invested funding towards koala habitat protection and enhancement activities since 2016 through our ‘Connecting Koalas’ project. The majority of these activities have been prioritised in the Area of Regional Koala Significance (ARKS), Queen Charlottes Creek, identified in the NSW Koala Strategy and prioritisation framework.

We also identified this ARKS and koala population area surrounding the locality of Rockley Mount as a ‘Priority Koala Area’ for investment in our region, as well as identifying four other secondary priority koala areas.

The focus of our project has been to engage with local landholders and the community to undertake activities on private owned land to protect, expand and enhance koala habitat and increase connectivity in the landscape and reduce habitat fragmentation for koalas. We’ve done this through funding activities like:

  • stock proof fencing to protect koala habitat and tree planting
  • revegetation to expand koala habitat or increase connectivity between habitat patches with a focus on planting eucalypt species used for koala food sources
  • weed control - particularly woody weeds that restrict and create barriers to koala movement through the landscape

With support from NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment threatened species team, this work will continue as an important investment priority in our region.

We strongly encourage all landholders to get involved in protecting our threatened and endangered species. You may think it unlikely that anything you can do can save a species on its own – but if most landholders take some small action, it will all help increase the resilience of our environment which will have a positive effect to our threatened species.

Not sure where to start? An easy place to start saving our species is through Citizen Science. Check out this page for tips - particularly the iSpy Koala app - or contact one of our NRM (Natural Resource Management) officers.

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