After 3 years our Koala Watch project supported by the NSW Environmental Trust has come to an end.
Koala Watch aimed to empower individuals within local communities in the Northern Rivers region to be proactive in the early detection of sick and injured koalas to improve their chances of successful treatment and alleviate the suffering of untreatable koalas. The project delivered four different workshops and field days in each of the six Northern Rivers local government areas. Workshops focused on the major threats facing koalas (made worse through habitat loss) and highlighted ways in which these threats could be reduced or eliminated:
- dogs (domestic and wild)
- disease (Chlamydia and Retrovirus)
- road vehicle collisions
- droughts and heatwaves
- catastrophic fire events
- severe storms
A total of 16,000 people are known to have been reached with Koala Watch messaging by either attending Koala Watch workshops, field days and events or by engaging with Koala Watch social media posts and articles online. This far exceeded our initial goal of reaching a minimum of 200 local community members.
Following Koala Watch workshops, field days and events there was an increased number of calls to our Rescue Hotline from workshop participants reporting early detection of distressed, diseased, sick or injured koalas. In addition, there was an increased interest in membership and volunteering opportunities at Friends of the Koala, as well as an increase of koala sightings reported via our website.
These outcomes should not be underestimated. The Koala Watch project was large and complex, involved multiple stakeholders and delivered outcomes during droughts, floods, fires and most recently Covid-19.
We will continue to deliver Koala Watch activities into the future and Koala Watch education and learning materials will be integrated into our digital ecosystems moving forward. Several events and workshops are already planned for later this year and will utilise the materials and learnings from the Koala Watch project.
This project would not have been possible without NSW Environmental Trust and the hard work and dedication of Maria Matthes our Koala Watch Project Officer.