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Northern Rivers Wildlife Hospital proposed $12 million wildlife plan for Northern Rivers

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Northern Rivers Wildlife Hospital, Dunoon and District Gazette

An innovative regional wildlife care plan has been launched by Northern Rivers Wildlife Hospital chair Ninian Gemmell, seeking an extra $6 million for a region-wide strategy.

The 10-point plan aims to support all organisations involved in local wildlife care, recognising the vital roles played by the Northern Rivers Wildlife Hospital, Friends of the Koala Hospital and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital (which is a crossborder service and a key member of the Northern Rivers Wildlife Network).

“The NSW Government decision to earmark $6 million to Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital (BBWH) has prompted us to step up our regionwide vision in line with NSW Government policy which supports networking wildlife services, so that all wildlife hospitals and the five wildlife rescue organisations in the Northern Rivers including hundreds of volunteers can be supported in addition to BBWH,” Mr Gemmell said.

“WWF Australia generously funded the establishment of a Northern Rivers Wildlife Network (NRWN) last year. We are convening the network and want that to continue to ensure the best possible outcomes for wildlife.”

The extra $6 million sought would mean a total outlay of $12 million for Northern Rivers wildlife.

Spanning seven Local Government Areas, the Northern Rivers is one of Australia’s most biodiverse regions and home to numerous endangered species.

Wildlife services in the Northern Rivers work closely together under the Northern Rivers Wildlife Network to ensure all wildlife needs in the region are met.

The Northern Rivers Wildlife Hospital, Friends of the Koala Hospital and Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital are part of the network, as are wildlife rescue organisations WIRES, Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers, Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers, Australian Seabird & Turtle Rescue, Friends of the Koala, and an array of conservation groups working to restore wildlife habitat.

All organisations play a crucial role in the welfare and survival of wildlife in the region.

The community based Northern Rivers Wildlife Hospital (NRWH) facility is being built on a 2.5-hectare site in Wollongbar, with a long-term lease held with NSW Crown Lands.

“This $2.8 million ‘bricks and mortar’ wildlife hospital is the result of years of collaboration by locals, the support of a Black Summer Bushfires Recovery grant, the generosity of philanthropists and a bequest. Ballina Council has approved the NRWH DA and we are working to be open for the busy spring period.

“Our facility is on public land and the $1.4 million taxpayer investment to open its doors is secure in perpetuity, as is the governance of the organisation because it is community based and representative of the wildlife sector for the region.”

Friends of the Koala has been the voice of the region’s koalas for over 36 years. Their dedicated Koala Hospital treats all orphaned, sick, and injured koalas in the Northern Rivers, a region home to one of the most significant, genetically diverse koala populations in Australia.

BBWH is a licensed Wildlife Hospital providing an all-species service, with mobile capacity to respond to wildlife in need.

It is staffed by a full-time team of wildlife veterinarians and nurses.

“This $6 million enhancement recognises all volunteers and providers, noting that all wildlife have always been treated free of charge by all providers. 

Dunoon and District Gazette April-May 2023

This article appeared in the Dunoon and District Gazette, April – May 2023.

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