To kick off Save The Koala month, the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) has announced a bold new habitat regeneration project to ‘Save The Koala With Kisses!’
What Is The Koala Kiss Project?
So, how do kisses help our iconic Koala? Okay, so we’re not talking about giving cuddly koalas little kisses on the forehead (disappointing, I know!). The AKF’s brand new initiative, the ‘Koala Kiss Project’, is all about building habitats for Koalas using ‘kiss points’.
The heart of this amazing project is to create the ‘Great Koala Trail’ — a 2,543-kilometre trail of uninterrupted Koala habitats on the East coast of Australia. For the AKF, the ultimate goal is to provide a continuous stretch of safe habitat to allow Koala populations to recover and thrive.
“If we achieve contiguous habitat, then all creatures great and small could traverse through the bush unthreatened. Humans could walk under this trail of gum trees with koalas happily in the branches overhead,” says AKF Chair, Deborah Tabart.
How Can We Save Koalas With Kiss Points?
Over the past 23 years, AKF has developed the Koala Habitat Atlas — a first-of-its-kind software that maps the entire habitat range of the Koala. After reviewing the data, the team at AKF realised that Koala habitats are extremely disjointed — in some areas, Koala habitats are very close to each other, but they remain separated by areas of cleared land.
These ‘kiss points’ represent areas where separate Koala habitats can be connected — which, as you can guess, sparked the idea for the Koala Kiss Project! To save the Koala with kisses, it’s crucial to pinpoint fragmented habitats areas.
“The first phase of this project will be a scientific exercise using software to plot the kiss points over 1.5 million square kilometres of land. Once identified, landholders must be given incentives to plant koala forests that link fragmented habitats,” says Deborah Tabart.
Here’s Why Koala Numbers Are Declining
The AKF estimates that there are no more than 80,000 koalas left in the wild, and sadly, WWF-Australia has predicted that Koalas could be extinct in New South Wales by 2050.
Tree-clearing for agriculture (mainly livestock), urban development, roads and mining have decimated almost 80 per cent of prime Koala habitats. Not only does tree-clearing remove Koala habitats, it also forces Koalas to move on the ground to another location — which puts them at risk of being attacked by larger animals or hit by vehicles.
This is precisely why Deborah Tabert says the Koala Kiss Project is essential. “AKF is all about recovery of the species, and with the Federal Government now 7 years behind writing a recovery plan for the Koala, it is clear we must take matters into our own hands”.
September Is Save The Koala Month!
Last month was Save The Koala Month. It was great to see so many people get involved to protect our most lovable, cuddly species. For the month of September, the AKF encouraged all of us to Hold a Fundraiser, Order a Donation Box, Adopt a Koala, Plant a Tree, create some Koala-inspired art, or have a Koala PJ Party and share it on social media with the #STKM hashtag!
These fundraising activities and donations go towards helping the AKF complete their amazing conservation work — including mapping out ‘kiss points’ for the Great Koala Trail and turning this fantastic vision into a reality.
“Every kiss we can connect in the near future will help ensure the survival of the Koala,” says Deborah Tabert.
We’re so excited about this phenomenal project! Creating the Great Koala Trail could help Koala populations to safely repopulate and thrive for generations to come. For more information about the project and how to help, head to AKF’s Koala Kiss Project page.
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