Should we save our koalas? Survey to identify willing participants

Up to 80 per cent of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area burnt in last summer's extreme bush fires and wildlife has been heavily impacted. The rate at which some habitats recover is likely to be slow, particularly in the areas that were intensively burnt.

With the protected area network so badly impacted, the habitat that does remain in and around residential areas is more important than ever to our surviving wildlife, including koalas.

Endangered icon. Picture: Supplied

Endangered icon. Picture: Supplied

Science for Wildlife's Executive Director, Dr Kellie Leigh, hopes that if we can protect remaining koalas in these areas that didn't burn, in the asset protection zones around people, then these koalas may help to recolonise the bushland in the protected areas as it recovers.

However, conserving koalas in developed areas is complex. There are always competing interests when humans and wildlife occupy the same land. The first important step in protecting koalas in these developed areas is understanding any barriers to effective conservation, and working with people to find solutions that respect the different values that people hold.

That's where community participation is critical for conservation, and Dr Leigh is asking the community to take a brief post-fire koala community survey and sharing it among friends and contacts.

The threats that koalas face differ depending on whether they are inside national parks or on developed land. So it is important to understand more about where they have survived, and if communities in those areas are willing to help bring them back.

Searching in the burn zone. Picture: Supplied

Searching in the burn zone. Picture: Supplied

While approximately three billion animals were impacted across Australia's east coast last summer, people were also hit hard by the fires and a major concern has been around improving management to protect human life and property. That was the focus of the recommendations in the recent NSW Bushfire Inquiry Report.

"It's a tricky thing to strike a balance between protecting ourselves and our homes, and also protecting the wildlife and the places we love. If we live on the edge of a World Heritage Area, how do we feel about that? We'd love to have your input," said Dr Leigh.

All responses are anonymous. Complete the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/8HBRJKY.

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