Farmers urged to help build region’s koala habitat
YOU don’t need to choose between working the land and helping to grow vital koala habitat.
Byron Shire Council has appealed to more farmers to consider planting koala food trees on their properties to help establish suitable habitat.
“We are pleased to be able to help landowners with ecological restoration that supports koala habitat through planting programs,” the council’s biodiversity officer, Liz Caddick said.
“Koalas need habitat corridors that allow them to move safely between the eastern and western reaches of the shire facilitating greater genetic diversity, which leads to healthier populations.
“Often we need to use privately-owned farmland to provide these critical links and that’s where our Shire’s farmers come into the picture.”
Ms Caddick said there was a wealth of knowledge among the farmers who’d made a success of regenerative farming in the Byron Shire.
Lindsay Murray set aside about 15 per cent of his Myocum cattle farm and adopted regenerative farming practices about a decade ago.
That’s helped to establish an important habitat link for koalas and other wildlife.
“The land was completely cleared between 1900 and 1910 and we have been working towards establishing wildlife habitat with successive plantings every year,” Mr Murray said.
“We hear and see koalas in the area, and koala food trees form an important part of our planting strategy.”
The planting was supported by Saving our Species North East Hinterland Koala Conservation and Recovery Project, the council and Zero Emissions Byron.
It involved one thousand trees including swamp mahogany and forest red gum being planted along the riparian corridor to connect a previously planted area with remnant Big Scrub vegetation.
“Planted environmental areas are electronically fenced off from cattle and we use temporary electric fencing to move the cattle around every second day,” he said.
Mr Murray said he’d learnt how to successfully replant areas on a tight budget.
“Using wooden stakes makes trees easier to find during the maintenance phase, while using a hole punch or mini-auger to dig holes speeds planting up a lot,” he said.
“We also use old coffee sacks as mulch mats to reduce weed growth and preserve soil moisture around the seedlings.
“As a Land for Wildlife member, we are eligible for grants and support with planting projects. Every year we have an enthusiastic group of friends and neighbours who come out and help put trees in the ground.”
For more information and to register your interest in future habitat planting programs contact Council’s Biodiversity Officer on 6626 7324.