Following a NSW Koala Strategy-initiated community meeting held in Bega in 2019 a group of key stakeholders formed the Koala Strategy Steering Group which aimed to facilitate inclusive & collaborative leadership in the effective management of South Coast koalas.
Through a series of meetings the Group reached out to many people and through a co-design process developed principles to inform the group function and structure, its desired outcome, some potential strategies and ensuing key actions.
The group developed the following guiding principles:
● Independent, community-led initiative, with participation of all relevant stakeholders.
● Participation is on a voluntary basis.
● Non-partisan and aim to represent and integrate the broadest possible spectrum of community perspectives on koala conservation - focus on inclusivity.
● Encourage self-organising and self-responsibility.
● Use practices and processes that allow good collaboration - including listening well and openness.
● Create a culture of transparency.
● Create a positive environment where all voices can be heard.
● Move meetings around the region for diversity and interest.
● Development of an effective Koala management strategy with agreed priorities, strategies, and on-going projects and programs.
● A well-functioning steering group, using sound structures and good collaborative practice.
● A unified, regional, ongoing approach to koala conservation.
● Improved interagency collaboration.
● Improved capacity for all stakeholders to work together (industry, community & Government interests).
● Advocacy role for the local koala population - inform government policies and strategies.
● Improved sharing of information and research findings between stakeholders.
● Increased public and personal confidence that we are doing our best to support koalas.
● Increased awareness and knowledge of the issues in the local community.
● People feel inspired, empowered and motivated to get involved - including increased volunteer engagement.
● Overall improvement in the Koala population and habitat health on the Far South Coast.
Key strategies for the plan development
● Integrate the outcomes from the NSW Koala Strategy Community Action workshop (held in Bega, February 2019).
● Review previous local draft koala plans/strategies/frameworks/projects developed over the past 20 years to inform the plan development.
● Identify and agree on further research and survey priorities.
● Identify landscape and habitat improvement priorities.
● Refer to the NSW Koala Strategy and collaborate with the NSW Koala Strategy team to bring a local focus to statewide strategy initiatives.
Potential strategies for the plan implementation
● Engage with agencies and research bodies to support research and survey priorities.
● Collectively support the range of surveys, scientific research and citizen science work that are needed.
● Seek additional funding for agreed priority actions not adequately funded through the NSW Strategy.
● Support the establishment of a cultural burning program in and around the existing populations.
● Continue to promote koala corridors radiating out from the current home forest into higher nutrient soils of open dry grassy woodland country, across private land.
● Engage landholders and farmers, through the Far South Coast Landcare Association, Farmers Network, the Farming Smarter Together program and FSC Conservation Management Network.
● Develop an effective and integrated community education and engagement program.
Structure of the Koala Strategy Steering Group
● The Koala Strategy Steering Group (KSSG) will be formed under the auspice of the Far South Coast Landcare Association (FSCLA) - providing a platform with an established brand, existing networks, insurance, funding sponsorship, and bank account. The FSCLA will auspice any funding submissions, and will hold and manage any funds with direction of the KSSG core team. An administration fee may be paid to the FSCLA as part of any funding application. An MOU will be developed between the KSSG and FSCLA.
● The KSSG will have a core team that will provide leadership to the group, host meetings and provide a central focus for continuity. The core team will provide updates to the FSCLA committee as required. This core team may meet at times outside of KSSG meetings, as required. As a start, the core team will be invited from those who participated in the formation process and other interested people. Subsequent core team members will be invited to step in as others step out. This will be done on an as-needs basis.
● Involvement in the KSSG will not be a formal membership position, rather key people will be invited to attend and others may approach to be included. This approach is in-line with the principles of inclusivity. Meetings will move around the region for diversity and to provide an overview of different landscapes. Meetings may include specialist speakers and field walks, to improve the understanding and knowledge between members.
● The KSSG will form work teams to take on and progress tasks or actions from the strategy. These work teams will communicate their progress and findings back to the core team and wider group membership through on-line platforms (eg. Email, Google Drive, Facebook, Workplace, etc) and face-to-face gatherings.
● The KSSG meetings will need to be facilitated/hosted, to ensure good collaborative processes are used where the diverse m.