Fire Workshop to Help Ballina’s Koalas

A FREE workshop will help locals learn how fire affects habitats in Ballina, Lismore and Richmond Valley Local Council Areas.

The recent studies and reports by RMS about Ballina's nationally significant koala population, identified that without community support for actions that reduce threats to the koala population, it is on a slow decline toward extinction.

Wildfire can severely impact on koala populations.

Maria Matthes, workshop coordinator, said the Koala Study by Biolink and Ecosure, suggested that a catastrophic fire could have a moderate to severe impact on reproduction and survival of koalas in the Ballina population.

"While many landholders are already doing, and have done, some great things to help our koalas, like weed control, planting koala food trees, wild dog and fox control, keeping pet dogs in doors or in contained areas, and being more aware of sick and injured koalas, we haven't started looking at the role of fire and what we can do as a community," she said.

Maria encouraged landholders to come along to the Fire for Healthy Habitats workshop, describing it as "a great opportunity for landholders interesting in being part of the recovery of our local koala population, to learn about the more about managing the habitat for more than 40 threatened species, and to understand how this can be done while still protecting life and property."

Tara Patel, Coordinator of the Northern Rivers Fire and Biodiversity Consortium (NRFABCON) said they were very lucky to have Mark Graham, ecologist from the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and Andy Baker, fire ecologist from Wildsite Ecological Services as guest speakers.

They will cover a range of topics including the use of fire, concepts around fire ecology, local vegetation types and the impact of too much or too little fire, and case studies for selected threatened species and the impact of fire regimes on their survival, she said.

NSW RFS will also be on hand to outline the approval process for lighting fires and obligations under the Rural Fires Act for all rural landowners, such as site preparation, notification of neighbours and the RFS before lighting up, and compliance with notices such as Total Fire Ban days.

The workshop is presented by the NRFABCON in partnership with Australian Governments National Landcare Program, Brunswick Valley Landcare, NSW Rural Fire Service, Nature Conservation Council, Wildsite Ecological Services, and Healing History.

NRFABCON provides a network for land managers and stakeholders seeking a coordinated, landscape level approach to appropriate fire management for biodiversity across the Northern Rivers region.

Workshop: Saturday 9.30am-3pm at Meerschaum Vale Hall.

Bookings are essential. Please contact Maria Matthes on 66 879 808 or

The workshop includes morning tea and lunch.

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