Green Armies restore habitat for koalas

THREE key koala habitat restoration projects, consisting of two Green Army projects and a major rainforest restoration in Tregeagle, have been launched by Page MP Kevin Hogan.

Marking the 25th anniversary of Landcare, Tregeagle Landcare received a Federal Government grant of $20,000 to restore koala habitat along ridges leading to Tucki Tucki and Boggy Creeks as well as lowland rainforest along the creeks at Connor Road, Tregeagle.

"I congratulate the Tregeagle Landcare group for this very impressive project to restore koala habitat and provide numerous other environment benefits for our community," Mr Hogan said.

The Tregeagle restoration project will improve existing koala habitat and connectivity as well as rejuvenate eucalypt and rainforest ecosystems and improve water quality in the creeks.

"The launch is an opportunity for our group to help the wider community improve habitat for koalas," Tregeagle Landcare President Jim Kinkead said.

"If we completed the vegetation restoration plans we would have a network of green corridors throughout the Tregeagle area - our local koalas would have a safe and undisturbed breeding and feeding highway.

"We will also use some of the grant funding for a field day that will engage school children, landholders and others to learn and become involved in Landcare activities at Tregeagle."

Meanwhile, two Green Army projects will assist Lismore's south-eastern koala population, which is struggling to survive from a lack of genetic diversity and the constant threat of habitat loss, dog attacks, road injuries and disease.

Green Army is a new Federal Government initiative for 17 to 24 year olds to gain training and experience in environmental conservation, Mr Hogan said.

"The Green Army provides opportunities for young Australians to gain training and experience in environmental and conservation fields and explore careers in conservation management, while participating in projects that generate real benefits for the Australian environment," Mr Hogan said.

"Across Page, there are now four Green Army projects underway and another 13 have just been approved. This means we have one of the highest number of Green Army projects anywhere in Australia."

One new Green Army team will work with Friends of the Koala in their plant nursery to grow koala food trees.

These trees will be given to people who wish to expand koala habitat on their properties and help increase connectivity. The team will also undertake weed control and tree planting at the Southern Cross University campus and help out with community education events and koala counts.

"One of the biggest threats to koalas is loss of habitat and the Green Army team will provide a great boost to the creation of koala habitat on the North Coast," Friends of the Koala Trees Officer Mark Wilson said.

"The loss of their bushland habitat often forces koalas into small 'pockets' of trees surrounded by houses, dogs and roads. The aim of the project with the Green Army is to try and link these pockets of habitat to provide wildlife corridors and enable safe movement of koalas and other native animals."

The second Green Army team will work with Lismore City Council to control invasive weeds, which limit koala movements and block access to food trees. The participants will be planting trees and learning plant propagation as well as attending local community Landcare events.

The three projects are supported through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme and the Australian Government's Green Army Programme.