Citizen Science Koala Training

Koala in tree at Campbelltown- courtesy of Pat Durman

Nanna Bron recently attended a Koala Citizen Science training day in Campbelltown and she described it as AWESOME!

The practical citizen science training was run by BioLink, an ecological consulting company, one of the “goodies” of the consultancy world, as opposed to some others whose work for developers can assist greenwashing.

The participants learned about koala physiology, behaviour, preferred feed trees etc, and how and where to look for scats. They signed up to the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) so that they could log any finds. Then they went over to Noorumba Reserve and did some scouting. They didn’t find any koalas but did find a scat, which was exciting.

Later, over some free food and drink, Jeff Angel from the Total Environment Centre, (TEC) launched the Sydney Basin Koala Network. This has been created because WIRES received lots of money after the bushfires from people all over the world who wanted to save koalas. However, WIRES’ brief is to save individual animals.

TEC, on the other hand, is an advocacy group concerned with the bigger picture. They have persuaded WIRES to fund a big survey of koalas in the Sydney Basin. TEC have commissioned Biolink to oversee the survey which will be used, along with other data collected over the years by such people as Professor Robert Close, to advocate for retention of koala habitat.

Unfortunately, all too often the interests of land developers clash with those of the Sydney Basin Koalas, as the slide below shows. Saul Deane from the TEC is explaining that koalas need the corridors shown in light green in the Lendlease housing development site at Mt Gilead. The habitat fragments that Lendlease is prepared to leave are shown in dark green. Surveys from 2021 show that koalas were sighted in many of these areas, but fragments are useless to koalas unless they are connected in corridors wide enough (425 metres, according to the Chief Scientist) for them to use.

The Sydney Basin Koalas are special, and they can’t survive without somewhere to live. That’s why the Sydney Basin Koala Network’s aim is to protect and expand connected, thriving koala core habitats and corridors across the region. They can’t do this without knowing where the koalas currently live and where potential habitat and habitat corridors exist. This is where Citizen Scientists come in. Citizen scientists (like Nanna Bron) recruited from community groups will be able to add to the data collected by the professionals. The survey will be completed in January in time for the State election.

More Citizen Science training days will be held. For more information register here.

Image: Koala in tree at Campbelltown, one of five seen during this week – courtesy of Pat Durman

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