Plant food trees to help our koala population

Plant food trees to help our koala population

Koalas love gullies, hilltops, flats, rocky outcrops, cool places, deep forest - and koala food trees. But their food trees were also very attractive trees for industry - tallowwood, forest red gum, cabbage gum, swamp mahogany, grey gums, red mahogany, even stringybark.

Fortunately Gloucester still has koalas. The problem is food trees - few food trees equals few koalas. We can help by replacing food trees.

Done well, koalas can flourish again. This should be reward enough. But there are also long-term spin offs. Gloucester will get to see them more frequently, and the region will have a reputation as a koala hotspot.

The alternative is koalas becoming locally extinct. With climate change will come threats - heat stress, dehydration, habitat loss and intense bushfires. One answer is to enable movement and encourage new colonies.

More colonies equal greater resilience. For example fringe residential areas, schools, parks, watercourses, and small productive land holdings are all possibilities that could offer some extra safety - particularly from fire.

Larger holdings across the region are critical with their forests and their potential to reforest less productive parts or simply add koala food trees.

Gullies could be good candidates for creating koala habitat and corridors and also allow shelter for stock. They offer protection, nutrient and moisture for young trees and are often uneconomic to develop into productive parts of a property.

The same goes for residential and rural-residential householders. Some might share a gully. Others might share a dam. Often the banks are weedy or require death-defying acts to keep them mowed or maybe mowing and controlling the weeds is unnecessary? Maybe growing a clump of trees and bushes would make for a better view than looking at weeds that forever want mowing or brushcutting?

And if you can't grow large trees at your place, koalas won't mind. Any native habitat helps them make their way.

You can get information and help by contacting Gloucester Environment Group (GEG) via gloucester.environment.group@gmail.com and on Facebook.

National Tree Day: On Sunday August 1, GEG is planting a tree between the Gloucester River and Bucketts Road at 9am. Gloucester Community Garden will plant trees and do pruning for espaliered fruit trees from noon.