One of three surviving Koalas observed by NEFA after recent bushfires.
One of three surviving Koalas observed by NEFA after recent bushfires. A. Murray

Sigh of relief as koalas spared from firestorm

THERE is relief among environmental groups that a number of koalas have survived recent bushfires in Northern NSW.

The North East Forest Alliance is relieved that core Koala colonies have survived in Royal Camp and Braemar State Forests, though are maintaining their request to the NSW Government to take urgent action to help them.

NEFA Spokesperson Dailan Pugh said last Tuesday the group visited two Koala colonies saved from logging in Royal Camp State Forest and were relieved to find that while they have been affected by the fires, they have survived.

"While the understorey had been burnt throughout and extensive areas of canopy desiccated, in areas some of the larger trees still had healthy canopies and it was these the Koalas took refuge in,” he said.

"At the first site we located one apparently healthy Koala, and identified another 12 trees with scats beneath them. The scats indicated the presence of 2 other Koalas, one with a joey.

"It was great to find some Koalas have survived, but the drying and loss of canopy food for them is likely a significant ongoing problem.”

Mr Pugh said water is the most crucial resource the surviving koalas needed and left two litres of water for each of the Koalas we found, though these and other colonies need more.

It has been a tough run for koala colonies across Northern NSW recently with the increasing threat of fires and Mr Pugh said six identified koala hubs had been burnt in the Busby's Flat fire and 15 in the Bees Nest fire.

He said assessing and mitigating impacts on Koalas in these areas was a realistic and achievable action that the NSW Government "can and should urgently undertake” before more Koalas succumbed to the impacts of drought and fires.

"NEFA have written to Environment Minister Kean requesting that the Government helps Koalas by undertaking rapid on ground assessments of identified Koala Hubs, taking any injured animals into care, and placing watering stations in the occupied areas of all the Koala Hubs burnt in recent fires to limit ongoing impacts on survivors,” he said.

"Because of the significant loss of food resources NEFA have also asked him to ensure that a moratorium is placed on the logging of burnt Koala habitat on State Forests to enable Koala populations to recover.”