Koala efforts get boost in budget

Welcome boost: Koalas in Macarthur, like this sleepy critter from Appin, will be better supported with a funding boost in this year's budget.
Welcome boost: Koalas in Macarthur, like this sleepy critter from Appin, will be better supported with a funding boost in this year's budget.

Efforts to conserve and protect Macarthur’s koala colonies have received a boost with a funding allocation in the NSW state budget last week.

The budget listed an $800,000 commitment to koala conservation across three NSW areas: Campbelltown, Port Stephens and the Mid-Coast.

Wollondilly Council’s environmental education officer Damion Stirling, who works to conserve, among others, the Appin koala colony, said the funding was a welcome boost for the region’s efforts.

“Without funding it would be impossible to do what we do,” he said.

“For us this is seed money so we can move on to the next phase of our conservation.”

Mr Stirling was not aware exactly what breakdown of funds was set aside for Macarthur’s koalas but said more funding was expected in the coming years.

He said the funding boost worked in tandem with the government’s Saving Our Species Iconic Koala Project, which priorities koala conservation projects.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said in a statement the funding was indicative of the government’s dedication to maintaining koala populations.

“Any threatened Australian species is a serious issue and we want to invest in the important conservation work to help stabilise and eventually increase koala numbers across the state,” Mr Perrottet said. 

Mr Stirling said current conservation works had already proven extremely successful.

“We’ve just started with GPS collars on koalas and that will give us information on what trees they sleep in, what they eat and importantly where they cross roads like Appin Road,” he said.

“We can use that information to then create plans and we’ve already been in contact with the Roads and Maritime Authority looking at alleviating the issue of koalas crossing the road.”

Mr Stirling also said the shire’s Koala Hotline had proven a runaway success and was frequently used to call in sightings of the native animal, including a recent spotting of a koala in Thirlmere, the first reported there.