A koala field day at the Bremer Valley at the weekend was very successful thanks to the joint efforts of the local community, University of Queensland researchers and Taz, the sniffer dog.
More than 20 people gathered at Ron Smith’s property on Grants Road, Lower Mt Walker, to search for the vulnerable South-East Queensland koala or evidence of its inhabiting the area. Mr Smith and his neighbours have Land for Wildlife protection agreements covering parts of their properties to help protect koala habitat and valuable ecosystems.
Residents of Grants Road declared there road mining free in November, 2013.
Taz, an English springer spaniel, was specially-trained to detect koala scat and found plenty of evidence on Saturday, indicating that koalas live in and regularly move through the area.
Dr Bill Ellis - an ecological researcher based in the Centre for Mined Land Research in the Sustainable Minerals Institute at UQ - said the scat samples would be sent to Federation University in Victoria for analysis where scientists could determine the age, gender, health and genetic diversity of the koalas.
“It’s frustrating that small private landholders seem to be continuously undermined when the true value of their privately-owned habitat is ignored, or is not considered as important, for the protection of this natural environment that contributes to koala population’s survival,” Dr Ellis said.
“We need to find ways to engage with landholders to save these natural resources and we need to do this together."
Dr Elllis said Australia could lead the world in the management and co-existence of agricultural land and koala habitat.
Lock the Gate Alliance sponsored the field day and the group funds important research that Dr Ellis and his UQ team will undertake in the future.
UQ student, Joanne Bussey has written a report about koalas and the threats to their population in the Ipswich region.
Ms Bussey said: "These kinds of days are useful to interact with the community and spread the word about koala conservation in the area.”
The OWAD Environment company, with Taz’s help, conducted extensive surveys recently across the Ipswich region, and it is working with the Ipswich City Council to ensure the long term resilience of koalas across the region.