WORK IN PROGRESS: Page MP Kevin Hogan with Friends of the Koalas' volunteer Rachel and environmental projects co-ordinator Julie Reid and Koala Island owners Simon and Jasmine Andrews inspect the newly-installed wildlife friendly fencing at the Wyrallah koala refuge. Photo: Jackie Munro
WORK IN PROGRESS: Page MP Kevin Hogan with Friends of the Koalas' volunteer Rachel and environmental projects co-ordinator Julie Reid and Koala Island owners Simon and Jasmine Andrews inspect the newly-installed wildlife friendly fencing at the Wyrallah koala refuge. Photo: Jackie Munro

This Lismore island is a resort for local koalas

EMBRACED by the banks of the Wilsons River, a small parcel of land is proving to be a vital refuge for koalas.

The prime koala habitat at Wyrallah, called "Koala Island" by the property's owners, has been the site of ongoing environmental restoration works following the announcement of a $20,000 grant.

Local organisations Friends of the Koala and Monaltrie Landcare have been working with the landowners to create a new koala refuge to ensure the local population has a safe place to live.

Friends of the Koala environmental project co-ordinator Julie Reid said the Wyrallah/Monaltrie area has an abundance of koalas, but not enough food trees.

She said this has resulted in koalas spending more time on the ground and crossing roads, bringing them into contact with cattle, dogs and motor vehicles.

As part of the project, the community groups will install wildlife-friendly fencing, remove woody weeds and plant local natives, including helping to create the koala refuge on 'Koala Island'.

The refuge, located on Simon and Jasmine Andrews' cattle farm, sits in a bend of the Wilsons River, and is nearly a true island except for a small land bridge just wide enough for a vehicle.

Mr Andrews said the river and very small land bridge act as natural barriers, and means they can easily protect the koala population from predators such as wild dogs or foxes.

"Both of our children like to come out and look for koalas," Mrs Andrews said.

"So for us it's pretty important to help keep the koalas safe here."

Page MP Kevin Hogan last week inspected the newly installed fencing and said the project will focus on areas which have the "best regeneration potential".

He said the project will avoid areas prone to erosion to stop sedimentation in the river, but had proven to be progressing well at the Andrews' property.

"This land is great as the river acts as a natural barrier for wildlife that are harmful to koalas," he said.

He said the wildlife-friendly fencing will be used to help keep cattle away from environmentally sensitive areas and prevent erosion on the riverbanks.

"It is essential to exclude cattle when restoring wildlife corridors," he said.

"This is often the most expensive part of the process."

As well as helping fence off the riverbanks from cattle, the refuge will also implement other measures, including the installation of infra-red sensor cameras to monitor feral dogs to ensure there is no impact to koala numbers.



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