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Koalas in Byron Shire

Draft Byron Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management

October 2015 Update

At the 27 August Council meeting, Council resolved to have the Draft Byron Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management (CKPOM) peer reviewed and also provided an additional 2 weeks for interested parties to make further submissions on the draft Byron Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management (CKPOM).

A total of 33 submissions were received during this second public exhibition period:

  • 27 submissions (82%) supported the adoption of the KPOM. 6 of these submission objected to the weakening of the Plan since the 2014 draft.
  • 4 submissions (12%) provided comments.
  • 2 submissions (6%) objected to certain parts of the Plan.

Council is now commissioning a peer review of the draft CKPOM based on terms of reference that were developed during a workshop with Councilors and the project reference group.

Background

The draft CKPOM 2014 was prepared by koala ecologists from Biolink Ecological Consultants and presents a comprehensive and coordinated strategy which addresses all of the identified key threatening processes (habitat loss, road kills, dogs and fire) together with measures to stimulate koala movement within the Byron Coast planning area.

The Draft Byron Coast Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management (CKPOM) went through an initial public exhibition period from 11 February 2014 to 21 March 2014.

In response to this public exhibition a total of 57 submissions were received from individuals, community groups, consultant planners and consultants on behalf of landowners, and government agencies. The submissions fell into three main groups: 

  • Individuals, community groups and government agencies in support of the draft Plan based on the urgency of the need to address koala recovery (56%)
  • Individuals, community groups or practitioner generally supportive but requesting specific amendments to the draft (9%)
  • Landowners and/or their consultants, who, whilst generally accepting of the need to address koala recovery, were not supportive of the draft Plan for a variety of reasons (35%).

The draft CKPOM was then amended by Council staff to respond to submissions and reported to Council in October 2014. Legal advice was subsequently requested in accordance with Council Resolution 14-494. 

Following receipt of legal advice additional amendments were made to draft CKPOM to ensure it’s compliance with SEPP44.

Council’s Legal Services Branch has reviewed the amended CKPOM against the external legal advice received by Council and the original CKPOM. Legal Services view is that the amended CKPOM addresses the issues raised by the legal advice. The amended CKPOM has also recently been reviewed by DoPE’s Regional Office, at Council’s request, and staff comments received indicate they are satisfied that the amended CKPOM complies with SEPP 44.

Project  Reference Group

A project reference group has been formed to provide advice and guidance on the preparation of the Byron Koala Plan of Management to ensure that it meets the aim of SEPP 44.

The PRG is made up of Councillors, representatives from Office of Environment and Heritage, Department of Planning and Infrastructure, Friends of the Koala, a community representative as well as Council staff.

Minutes from the PRG meeting are available to view at www.byron.nsw.gov.au/committees/koala-plan-of-management-project-reference-group.

Byron Coast Koala Habitat Study

The Habitat Study was undertaken in 2012 and provides the scientific background used to inform the development of the KPOM. The habitat study includes analysis of historical records, assessment of current koala population distribution and size; analysis of preferred food trees; mapping of koala habitat; identification of important linkages between high activity areas; assessment of threatening processes; and recommendations for the KPOM.

Koalas under threat

Koalas are an iconic Australian species, recognised internationally and loved locally.  They are a uniquely Australian species depending primarily on Eucalypts for feed trees.

Unfortunately koalas have faced a number of threats to their survival which has resulted in significant declines to their population across their range. This decline has resulted in the listing of koalas as a Vulnerable species under both the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. These listings, in short, mean that unless steps are taken to protect and conserve koalas, they could become locally extinct. Byron Shire Council is commited to working with the community to prevent this from happening.

Where are the koalas in Byron Shire?

Koalas have been recorded over much of the shire however the habitat study identifies five areas of significant koala activity on the coast at Brunswick Heads, Tyagarah, Myocum, West Mullumbimby, West Byron. In the hinterland koala strongholds have been identified in Federal, Goonengerry, Wilson Creek and Montecollum.

Council encourages landholders to report koala sightings so they can be recorded into Council threatened flora and fauna database. This provides a record of koala locations which is used to improve their management.

Koala Connections project

Koala Connections is a project aimed at restoring and reconnecting koala habitat to provide a secure future for koalas on the NSW far north coast.

Byron Shire Council and Tweed Shire Council are working together on the Koala Connections project, which is being funded principally by a $2.1 million grant from the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Future Biodiversity Fund.

The program will work with landholders to improve and reconnect koala habitat and endangered ecological communities through tree planting, weed control, community engagement, invasive vertebrate pest management and fire management and planning.

To find out more go to Koala Connections

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