NOT HAPPY, BY GUM: Friends of the Koala president Lorraine Vass, committee member Julie Reid and vice-president Ros Irwin are not happy about being excluded from the Lismore City Council budget.
NOT HAPPY, BY GUM: Friends of the Koala president Lorraine Vass, committee member Julie Reid and vice-president Ros Irwin are not happy about being excluded from the Lismore City Council budget. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Koalas dropped from Lismore City Council budget

FRIENDS of the Koala group says a lack of funding in Lismore City Council's budget for its Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management shows conservation has fallen by the wayside.

"Lismore councillors approved a $134 million budget for the coming year but could not find $45,000 to turb- ocharge implementation of their award-winning Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management for south-east Lismore," the group said.

Friends of the Koala vice- president Ros Irwin said she told councillors implementation of the plan, including management actions aimed at curbing deaths and injuries from cars and dogs, was "way behind schedule due to resourcing priorities".

Dr Irwin said the plan of management was under-resourced with full-time staffing amounting to just over three days a week: an environmental planner working two days and an environmental strategies officer and admin officer working four hours each.

"The scope of work involved in CKPoMs demands that the position with primary responsibility for guiding their implementation needs to be full-time, at the very least in the short term, with a person appropriately qualified and skilled in ecology," Dr Irwin said.

"We've been advised the environmental planner is to be shortly re-allocated to work on the North Lismore Plateau development and replaced by another staff member who will work only on regulatory aspects such as development applications."

Friends of the Koala president Lorraine Vass said council staff and elected members "seem to have forgotten how highly the Lismore community values its natural environment and particularly its koalas".

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said she understood the group's concerns, but "there's never enough money for all the things our community wants to do".

The plan's implementation was scheduled to run over four years and many of its actions would not require a project budget.

"They do require some staff resources," she said. "I guess they would be looking for a dedicated staff member to work on the plan, but that would cost over $100,000."

Cr Dowell encouraged the group to continue working with the council to meet the plan's goals.



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