Koala care… the Forestry Corporation’s Julian Armstrong with Bridge House Nursery owner Don Firth and Landcare Coordinator Chris Post.

FORESTRY Corporation of NSW has donated 1000 blue-leaved stringybark seedlings (Eucalyptus agglomerata) to south coast landowners to help rebuild koala habitat in the area.

Included are 500 seedlings to members of the Far South Coast Landcare Association to help build local koala habitat. The seedlings will be planted on private property adjacent to known koala populations.

The connection between Forestry Corporation and the Landcare Association was initiated by Bridge House Nursery owner Don Firth.

“During the bushfires, I met and worked with many Forestry Corporation staff at the Bega fire headquarters,” Mr Firth said.

“This connection has seen us work with the Far South Coast Landcare Association to deliver seedlings to local farmers and help offset lost seedlings.

“Unfortunately. the Landcare Association had lost a significant stock of seedlings in the bushfire, which were being prepared for the community planting program.

Top of the menu… a koala tucks into a meal of stringybark leaves.

“It’s great to see Forestry Corporation help replace these losses and keep the koala habitat program continuing.

“In these uncertain times, the cooperation between everyone has been fantastic.”

Forestry Corporation’s protection supervisor Julian Armstrong was pleased to deliver the seedlings last week.

“We’re happy to support post-fire rebuilding through the donation,” Mr Armstrong said.

“These seedlings will support replanting efforts and provide a food source for surviving koalas for years to come.”

The Bega seedlings come from Forestry Corporation’s Grafton nursery, and are part of a larger program to help rebuild koala habitat on private land.

Forestry Corporation is currently delivering more than 50,000 donated seedlings to community organisations, farmers and land managers in NSW’s coastal areas.

Koalas eat a variety of eucalypt leaves and a few other related tree species, including lophostemon, melaleuca and corymbia species (such as brush box, paperbark and bloodwood trees). They consume around 500 grams of leaves each day (about the size of a small lettuce) and obtain most of their water requirements from the leaves, which can contain up to 50% water.

This removes the need for a koala to climb down a tree for a drink, except during very hot or dry periods. The leaves are also very low in energy comprising only 5% sugars and starches on average.

Eucalypt leaves contain many toxic compounds similar to that of cyanide, which most animals cannot eat. This unique diet is shared only with possum and gliders, and provides koalas with access to a relatively untapped food resource.