Friday, July 8, 2022

Port Stephens expands koala plan

As the 20 year anniversary of the Port Stephens Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management nears closer, Port Stephens Council has secured $845,000 from the NSW Government to reduce koalas being killed or injured by vehicles.

Port Stephens Mayor, Ryan Palmer says koala protection and conservation has been a top priority for Port Stephens Council for many years and the recent funding from the NSW Government would have a significant impact on conserving the local koala population.

“Our community has a very special relationship with koalas, there aren’t many places in the country where you might encounter a koala on a walk around your local neighbourhood, but you can here in Port Stephens,” Mayor Palmer said.

“Protecting koalas and koala habitat is always at the forefront of our strategic planning and we work hard to balance growth alongside the protection of our local environment including koala habitat – one of the most important drawcards for residents and visitors alike.”

The NSW Government has undertaken a statewide investigation into vehicle road-strike hotspots in NSW, which identified Port Stephens Drive as one of the worst koala road-strike sites in NSW.

Following this, a further study was undertaken to determine options and costs associated with mitigating and preventing koala road-strikes along Port Stephens Drive.  

Council’s Group Manager Development Services, Steve Peart says the study identified that building a culvert to allow koalas to move under the road and installing exclusion fencing to keep koalas off the road were the most efficient and effective solutions.

“From 2010 to 2020, 89 koala records have been identified along Port Stephens Drive, including 11 vehicle strike fatalities, five vehicle strike injury rescues and 11 rescues,” Mr Peart said.

“This grant funding from the NSW Government is allowing Council to install 2km fauna-proof fencing on both sides of Port Stephens Drive, retrofit 850 metres of koala-proof fencing to the existing Horizons Golf Course fence, build a 20 metre long box culvert as fauna underpass near southern boundary of the golf course and add koala pavement painting and roadside signage indicating koala speed zones.

“We know our community places strong value on our local environment and the protection of koalas across Port Stephens and we’re confident these measures will have an immediate impact on reducing road strikes on koalas,” he said.

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