Friday, July 1, 2022

Important koala population discovered in Kosciuszko National Park: Griffin

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Australian Rural & Regional News asked some questions of the Minister, below the release.

The Hon. James Griffin, Minister for Environment and Heritage (NSW), Media Release, 2 June 2022

Evidence of an important koala population in Kosciuszko National Park has been revealed by new surveys undertaken as part of a collaboration between NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Australian National University (ANU).

Kosciuszko National Park
Kosciuszko National Park.

Minister for Environment James Griffin said it comes after surveys were conducted in November 2021 and February 2022 that recorded male koalas at 14 sites within the park’s Byadbo Wilderness Area.

“This is good news because until these recent surveys, there had only been 16 recorded sightings of koalas in Kosciuszko in more than 80 years,” Mr Griffin said.

“This exciting news provides hope that Kosciuszko National Park may be a refuge for this iconic species.

“It’s a promising sign and an indication that biodiversity is benefitting from the NSW Government’s commitment to protect and conserve threatened species.

“From here, we need to better understand the population and the impact this discovery could have on the survival of the species.”

In addition to koalas, the surveys unveiled a host of other declining species, including recordings of the southern greater glider and the yellow-bellied glider.

Member for Monaro Nichole Overall said this new discovery is an opportunity to learn about the significance of higher altitude habitats like those in Kosciuszko for the long-term survival of species like koalas.

“Monaro benefits in so many ways with this incredible national park on our doorstep, and it’s pleasing to see the evidence of the thriving biodiversity in the region,” Ms Overall said.

“This discovery is significant and from this point we can learn more about the species and how we can best support the population to thrive in the wild.”

ANU koala expert David Lindenmayer said researchers who collected and analysed the data believe Kosciuszko National Park may host a significant koala population, although at low densities.

“These findings are important because of the area’s elevation, which we hope will make the populations more resilient to climate change,” Mr Lindenmayer said.

“The project involved using 100 passive acoustic recorders and spotlight surveys.”

Additional surveys will be conducted under the NSW Koala Strategy to map the distribution of koalas across Kosciuszko National Park.

The population will be tracked as part of NPWS’ world-leading ecological monitoring program.

Questions for the Minister

Australian Rural & Regional News asked some questions of the Minister. The Minister’s response will be included here once received.

These surveys appear to indicate that koala populations in Kosciuszko National Park are not declining.

  • How will this affect the stated target in the NSW Koala strategy of adding “up to 15,000 hectares of koala habitat to the national park estate by purchasing high-quality koala habitat on private land”?
  • Will the additional land added to the national park estate be a conversion of productive agricultural land to national park?
  • Does the NSW Government consider that land can be managed for agricultural purposes and at the same time sustain healthy, low densities of koalas?
  • How does the NSW Government balance the need for land which produces food and products essential for human survival and other agricultural production with the reservation of land for conservation purposes?
  • What is the impact on the domestic and export market of agricultural produce of the NSW Government’s conversion of agricultural land, to date and from future conversions?
  • What survey results would lead the Minister to review the ‘endangered’ listing of koalas?
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