SKAT has started surveying again in the Mullungdung/Stratford region of Gippsland. Recent surveys have found scats between Stradbroke and Giffard. A koala was also observed at Stradbroke on the edge of a pine plantation in an area with scant native vegetation. It would appear that several hectares of native vegetation has also recently been removed within this plantation, making the life of koalas in the area even more precarious.
May 21, 2023: Strzelecki koala catching some rays at Stradbroke. This is the first time SKAT has seen a koala in a Mealy Stringybark (E.cephalocarpa). Also of interest was scats under nearby Holey Plains Peppermint (E.arenicola), another tree where koalas scats have not been observed before.
We are trying to fundraise to keep our collective alive. Any donations will be greatly appreciated. Its not an easy task keeping collectives going and we can't really continue without assistance from you. You can donate by following this clicking here.
The recent field trip to Loy Yang also found 4 scats. 4 survey sites found during the day and scats were found under Narrow Leaf Peppermints and Manna Gums. The area near Loy Yang could be considered as marginal koala with an estimated koala population of 0.02 koalas/ha. In 2013 koala scats were found very close by to our recent finds, indicating that there has been a koala presence in this area for some time.
Survey team that found some scats at Loy Yang in April
In late May, came the news that the Victorian State Government announced that native forest logging will cease in Victoria. This is amazing news and vindicates the hard work of thousands of Victorian's who have campaigned and protested against native forest logging throughout the State for decades. Unfortunately, the shut down of native forest logging will have a minimal impact on Strzelecki koalas. Although a couple of coupes are on the cutting schedule at Mullungdung and Won Wron State Forests, almost all of the koala habitat in the Strzelecki's in managed under 99 year plantation leases by Hancock Victorian Plantations. The forests were sold off by the Kennett Government in the late 1990's and are classed as private land.
The above map highlights land controlled by Hancock Victorian Plantations in the Strzelecki Ranges. Purple represents Victorian Plantation Corporation (VPC) leasehold purchased from the State Government in 1998. The orange and yellow shading represent private land and leasehold purchased by Hancock from Australian Paper Plantations in 2001.
SKAT has learnt that the State Government is on track to reserve another 4,000ha of land for the Brataualung Forest Park. This is the result of campaigning by local groups including Friends of Gippsland Bush and FoE since the 1990's. The Strzelecki's are Victoria's most depleted bioregion and the additional reservation of land will increase the areas protected in the Strzelecki's by 100%. When we get further details we will let people know.
A new scientific paper looking at Koalas in the Brataualung Forest Park will also be published in the very near future. The report was written by Biolink Ecological Consultants who visited the region in September. The report makes for fascinating reading and compiles koala sightings with genetic assessments, which in turn highlights the significance of Morwell National Park as being central in the survival of the Strzelecki koalas over the past century. Once the report is published we will be happy to share the findings to our supporters.
Our Strzelecki Koala Map continues to record sightings of both koalas and scats. Over 100 locations have been pinned for 2023 already.
Our next meeting will occur on Thursday June 1st at 6.30pm. You can join the meeting at the following zoom link.
Also we are trying to fundraise to keep our collective alive. Any donations will be greatly appreciated. Its not an easy task keeping collectives going and we can't really continue without assistance from you. You can donate by following this clicking here.
Holey Plains Peppermint (E.arenicola). Koalas like them at Stradbroke.