Lismore's 'uphill battle' for dwindling koalas

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan officially opened the Friends of Koala's new $170,000 Burribi Education and Administration Centre.
Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan officially opened the Friends of Koala's new $170,000 Burribi Education and Administration Centre. Marc Stapelberg

FRIENDS of the Koala's new $170,000 upgrade was unveiled after a "tough uphill battle”.

Page MP Kevin Hogan yesterday helped to open the Burribi Education and Administration Centre (Widjabul word for koala).

"This is a terrific project that will increase the number of tourists visiting Lismore and allow the Friends of the Koala to deliver more education information about koalas to more groups,” Mr Hogan said.

"It will also extend the range of skills currently offered to Centrelink clients and potential volunteers.”

The project involved local workers to construct the building which includes a garage, bathroom amenities, office and kitchenette.

The centre's original building will be turned into a dedicated koala hospital for those needing long-term care, allowing for research to protect and preserve populations.

Friends of the Koala's president Ros Irwin said it would "provide better outcomes for the koalas and an improved education facility” for the community.

She said it's been a tough battle and a year's hard work thus far after scaling back from the $1 million upgrade originally planned, but there is still more that can be done for the iconic species.

The call for a hospital is strong as the centre takes in more koalas than anywhere else in the state.

"Last year we took in 433 koalas ... that's more than one a day and for intensive work we are taking koalas up to Currumbin virtually every second day,” Ms Irwin said.

"For an animal that's diseased or been injured, being put in a van and taken that far is really not good for them.”

In 2016 30% more koalas were rescued than previous years, and this year looks to be even busier.

The higher rate of koalas coming in is a combination of things, and climate change is a big part and an increase in reporting about koalas in need from the public play big parts, she said.

The Federal Coalition Government provided $78, 028 to the project under its National Regions Stronger Fund and Friends of the Koalas provided $91, 121.

Topics:  friends of the koala kevin hogan koala conservation northern rivers environment

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