Workshop Outcomes

Community Koala Action Workshop Tanja Hall - November 2019


Group 1: Co-ordinating the Koala Action Network
The Co-ordinating the Koala Action Network group was hosted by Dave Newell.

  • Provide a central hub to support the network to operate well
  • Admin/Comms/Funding Hub
  • Relationship with FSCLA
  • OEH relationship
  • Google Drive – resources, one stop shop
  • Webpage entry point
  • Support role for action groups
  • NSW strategy linkage
  • Advocacy role
  • Advice on advocacy and media
  • We don’t want action groups to become silos
  • Need transparency in all things
  • Develop KAN brief
  • Clear message of what KAN is
What we know
  • Need champions
  • We have some people ready to take on the roles
  • Must have leadership
  • Need regularity of connection
What we have
  • (Landcare) FSCLA – office, meeting room, support
  • Other resources to draw upn
  • Committed people
What we need
  • To stay in touch - regular communication
Unanswered questions
  • Do we need branding? What level?
  • How do we link with the NSW Koala Strategy?
Next wise steps
  • Invite some members
  • Develop KAN terms of reference including operating principals
  • Organise a 3 month catch up with linking people from each Action Group, reporting, connecting – mid Feb
  • End of May 2020 KAN gathering for whole Network
  • Develop MOU with FSC Landcare

Group 2: Habitat & Population Management
The Habitat & Population Management Group was hosted by Don McPhee
  • Biodiversity corridors and patches
  • FSC nature conservancy
  • Koala health connections to bush medicine plants
  • Framework for private land biodiversity conservation to support koalas
  • Healthy koala population supported by the right plants
  • Strategies/directions
  • Keep what is already there in forests
  • Designated koala corridors – connect – protect form harvesting
  • Regeneration form old paddock trees
  • Strategic design of reveg to link/build corridors and patches
  • Volunteers for planting and reveg
  • What are the right plants for koala health in corridors?
  • Are there some plants that protect koalas from disease?
  • Bush medicine plants for koalas – research topic?
  • What are Chlamydia vectors and factors?
  • Would controlling Chlamydia allow koala population to grow again? – research topic
  • Cows Nest Sanctuary – use as example/learning place
  • Cows’ Nest as population ‘B’ release area
  • Engage Bio Div, Cons Trust, Bush Heritage Assist, FSC Landcare, BVSC, Biamanga & Gulaga boards
What we need
  • What knowledge can be shared by other areas on koala health?
  • Use SCPA newsletter as wildlife release network/corridor land holders
  • Landholder notes on regeneration techniques
  • Extension field days
  • Identify seed trees (good koala feed trees)
  • Can koalas be safely translocated?
  • Koala diseases – impact/spread from relocation?
Unanswered questions
  • What/why are some koalas disease resistant?
  • Disease status of former Tantawangalo population?
Next wise steps
  • Kerry Avery – research bush medicine traditional knowledge – how it applies to animals
  • Don – Pull together the key parties to have the conversation about FCS nature conservation
  • Who? Investigate and promote population ‘B’ work

Group 3: Koala Care & Welfare
The Koala Care & Welfare (including training, water stations provision) group was hosted by John Marsh & Vicki McPaul.

  • More skilled carers
  • Ongoing training
  • Arrange/complete training
  • Determine water station placement and volunteers
  • Source equipment – water stations
  • Provide water for all wildlife
  • Data/information gathering
  • Involve local communities
What we know
  • Training is being organised
  • Equipment is needed
What we have
  • Funding for koala training & water stations
  • Water stations
  • Cameras
What we need
  • More volunteers
  • 2 x memory cards for each camera
  • Terrain
  • Volunteers
  • Data collection
  • Storage and sharing
Unanswered questions
  • Terrain – how many volunteers, exact locations, how many stations?
Next wise steps
  • Increased communication and further consultation

Group 4: Community Engagement & Education
The Community Engagement & Education Group was hosted by Dean Turner

  • Locals – The serious science of koala habitat
  • Visitors – The story of koala history and survival and future challenges
  • Farm landscape for Koalas and shelter belts
  • Facilitate/inform citizen science opportunities: surveys, research site monitoring
  • Ecological education
  • SE Koala Action Network public page on Facebook and website
  • Landcare Ag Note on koala trees to plant
  • Forest health icon species – canary, frog, warning
  • Volunteer Education Day stories for media
  • (Re)connection with land
  • Public awareness from today – media and social media
  • CWA and other U3A groups
What we need
  • Charismatic, non-political spokesperson with credibility
Next wise steps
  • Volunteer and media coordinator
  • School shelter belt design challenge with koala trees
  • Wilderness coast forest ecology guided walks for tourists and unguided including koala ecology
  • Science teacher information kit on SE koalas
  • Free koala food tree giveaways
  • Atlas of life event involvement
  • Link to firenet database sharing
  • Koala habitat database access link for anyone to use – especially HSC Geography Ecosystems at Risk Unit

Group 5: Fire Management
The Fire Management group was hosted by Dave Gallan.

  • Protecting koalas by managing fire
  • When to Burn?
  • When not to burn?
  • What type of burning or fire mitigation?
  • Physical thinning along roads
  • Removal of understorey species
  • Important to avoid 3D fuel loads
  • Koalas are vulnerable
  • Physical fuel reduction to aid employment and distributing material to enrich soils (eg, biochar)
What we know
  • Aboriginal people managed the land with fire
  • Forests are in decline
What we need
  • $s for ecologically safe hazard reduction
  • NPWS return fire regime
  • Divergent views on burning, historical views and current practice
Unanswered questions
  • Are there still $s there for cultural burning?
  • Where is the $300 000 promised by Andrew Constance?
Next wise steps
  • Low intensity burning with low scorch height using Aboriginal cultural burning (complex) techniques and physical fuel reduction methods
  • Organise a forum on fire management for Koalas

Group 6: Aboriginal Involvement
The Aboriginal Involvement group was hosted by Sean Burke.

  • Maximise Aboriginal jobs
  • Sharing cultural knowledge and practices
  • Education of young people – school leaving, principals – 20 year sequential development program, parents
  • Board & NPWS employment
  • Lease review – Murrah to Biamanga NP, FRS
  • Connection to country
  • Cultural tourism – Aboriginal owned and run
  • Cultural sharing – newsletters, annual reports
  • Cultural burning – integrate F/R & N/P fire management plans
  • Shire Council community engagement/commitment
  • Story telling
  • Educate community
  • Employment
  • Caring for country
  • Aboriginal owned and run cultural tourism
What we know
  • Not enough
What we have
  • Available resources in the communities
  • The Crossing
  • The boards
What we need
  • More jobs
  • Involvement
  • Information sharing
  • Funds
  • Aboriginal politics
  • Funding
  • Information access
Unanswered questions
  • Who?
  • When?
  • How?
Next wise steps
  • Develop 20 year sequential pathways for development of Aboriginal skills and career outcomes in all aspects of caring for country – land management, management, IT, science, tourism
  • Kick arse!

Group 7: Caring for Country
The Caring for Country group was hosted by Jenny Spinks.

  • Longing; relatedness; belonging
  • Humility
  • Little being willing to listen
  • Coming back to our deeper self
  • Empty to an extent so we can receive
  • Time ceases to exist
  • Connection
  • Paying attention
  • Right order of being
  • Responsibility
  • Actions will come from surrendering into the relationship
What we know
  • We have each other’s back
  • It is our responsibility to care for country
  • The wisdom is in the wind, forest
  • Connect with forest
  • No shoes – ground
What we have
  • Grief; a real smile; relief; passion; each other; a network; the land
What we need
  • Courage; tenacity; patience; coordination
  • Let go of so much crap – external, internal
  • Getting people to come with us
Unanswered questions
  • If God is everywhere, why do I have to go to church to be with him?
Next wise steps
  • Lie on the ground
  • Listen to the forest
  • Spirit listening
  • Take our shoes off and get grounded
  • Space – creating space
  • Listening to koalas
  • Drop to our knees for the phenomenon of life

Group 8: Koala Research and Monitoring
The Koala Research and Monitoring group was hosted by Chris Allen.

  • Short-term: Better understand koalas in South Coast Koala Management Area and their habitat
  • Long-term: Support the recovery of thriving koala population/s in the KMA
Strategies and Directions
  • Expand koala surveys into the broader landscape i.e. more than just the coastal forests study area.
  • Undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the current monitoring program, including the relative advantages of the RGb-SAT, passive acoustic and drone survey methods.
  • Review the outcomes that we hope the monitoring program can achieve.
  • Support the gathering and dissemination of ecological knowledge (including soil function analysis) being gathered through the Murrah Landscape cultural burning program.
  • Provide information and support research recommendations that develop from the workshop proposed by the Koala Action Network fire management focus group.
  • Review existing data on canopy condition and dieback and strategies that may reduce its severity and extent.
  • Review FNSW koala survey program.
Insights (related to the points above)
  • Passive acoustic, drones and other potential technological contributions may assist the survey programs. However, there are potential cost issues associated with these.
  • Need to have a clearer understanding of the extent of DPI&E commitment to research, and what other options there may be for funding.
  • Long-term relationships have been established between the Koala Health Hub, University of Sydney (DNA and disease status analysis derive from koala pellets collected in field surveys), the Australian National University (published paper analysing relationship between proportion of E. sieberi and koala presence), University of Canberra (development of Ikoala software program to analyse and report on monitoring data and local koala projects.
  • Data collection and storage capacity developed through existing monitoring and koala habitat rehabilitation projects could provide foundations for data management for the research and reviews proposed above.
  • SENSW koala database has information on canopy condition collected from all monitoring sites. Existing Lidar data (where is it?). Discussion within DPI&E about using remote sensing. Data collected through monitoring could be used for validation
  • The NSW Koala Strategy has a strong commitment to researching the relationship between fire and koala/s koala habitat.
  • Involving local people in monitoring and research provides opportunities for information-sharing.
  • Asking new questions may bring greater clarity
  • Research to be targeted to help establish thriving koala population/s
What we know
  • Good understanding of preferred koala browse species and koala distribution in coastal forests between Bega and Bermagui Rivers
  • Still a diversity of views on local koalas’ conservation status and habitat requirements but moving towards common ground. Eg we know we want thriving koala populations
What we have
  • SENSW koala database provides opportunities for data integration and research
  • List of useful relevant publications (Chris has compiled the beginnings of this, but needs to be expanded)
  • Information derived from monitoring program including summary document and Ikoala reports
  • Enthusiastic local community
What we need
  • Need to clearly identify the questions to guide major management questions
  • Greater efforts to share the knowledge we have with the broader community
  • Radio-tracking to understand microhabitat utilisation
  • More information about how significant tree size is for koalas (NB ikoala results may assist this
  • Funding
  • Diversity of views, some strongly held
  • Peer review processes (NB I noted this but don’t know what it means - Chris A.)
  • Lack of funding
Unanswered questions
  • How do different fire regimes (including cultural burning) impact or improve koala habitat?
  • How can we reduce the spread ofChlamydia and improve koalas/ resilience to the disease?
Next wise steps
  • Review what the gaps in our knowledge of local koalas are
  • Research role of (indigenous) plants in reducing impact of Chlamydia
  • Review existing Lidar data and potential for surveys using drones
  • Improve links with tertiary institutions, particularly Uni Wollongong Bushfire Research Unit