World Environment Day is a day to celebrate the wins, and recommit to fighting for the protection of the natural world.
Since the 1990’s, together with Friends of Gippsland Bush (FoGB) we campaigned for the protection of rainforest catchments in the Strzelecki Ranges in Agnes River, Franklin River, Dingo Creek, Albert River and College Creek which resulted in the creation of the Brataualung Forest Park in 2018. Now, the Brataualung Forest Park in Gippsland is home to some of the most important koala habitat in Australia.
These forests make up part of the habitat zones of the Strzelecki Koala, Victoria's only endemic koala population. With possibly only 1500 - 2000 Strzelecki Koalas remaining in the wild, every patch of forest matters.
And with no other native forest in Victoria being listed as Reserves over the past decade, places like Brataualung are of great importance.
Without the work of Friends of the Earth and community groups committed to the protection of native forests, much of this forest would be converted to pine plantations. Instead, the new reserve will eventually provide habitat for hundreds of Strzelecki koalas.
The Strzelecki Ranges, once home to the tallest Mountain Ash in the state, have been heavily cleared already, and this new reserve will be of considerable ecological value for the region.
The initial protection of 1600 hectares in the Brataualung Forest park in 2018 created a permanent refuge for koala populations in the region.
Another 6000 hectares has been promised by the State Government by 2027, a third of which will be added to the Brataualung Forest later in 2021.
It has been nearly three years since the Brataualung Forest Park was created. As climate impacts worsen, and koalas across the country struggle with habitat loss from logging, bushfire and unchecked land clearing, those of us committed to the preservation of the natural word must work harder to protect wildlife populations and their habitat
We need to continue the work to ensure that future handbacks of bush can be added to the Brataualung Forest Park, and we need to make sure that koalas in the Strzelecki Ranges are listed Federally and protected under Federal Environmental Laws.
Federal protection holds the key for protection of all Strzelecki koalas.
That’s why this month, we have launched a campaign to have the Strzelecki Koala protected under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Despite their low population numbers, the Strzelecki Koala is not listed as vulnerable, or specifically protected under Victorian legislation (The Flora and Fauna Act). However, a federal listing under the EPBC Act would ensure greater scrutiny of planned developments that would impact their habitat and survival.
Thanks in part to the huge generosity of our supporters, in the last year our campaign to protect the Strzelecki koala has really picked up pace. In the lead up to launching the campaign for federal protections, we have:
- Conducted over 100 surveys in the Strzelecki region in Gippsland to identify key Koala habitat zones and observe their primary food sources.
- Produced a short film about their significance
- Employed a part time Outreach Coordinator to build support in the city for our state's special koala.
- Petitioned the planning minister in an attempt to halt expansions of a quarry in Fish Creek, which would impact on koala corridors.
- Maintaining the Strzelecki Koala Map, which provides a useful means of networking koala issues in the region.
With less than 5% of the Strzelecki Ranges protected in reserves and mounting threats to koala habitat, we need to continue to grow our work in the region and put the Strzelecki koala in the national spotlight.
Thanks for being part of the campaign