One of the important native species in decline in our area, as in other parts of NSW and southern Queensland, is the koala. Last year concerns about the status of the koala in these states and the ACT led to its listing in these areas as vulnerable under the federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.
Obviously just listing the species is only a small part of protecting it so that it survives in viable populations into the future.
Another part involves gathering more data so that planning for current and future protection can be based on sound knowledge of the species and its habitat use.
The Great Koala Count aims to build on existing knowledge by creating "a comprehensive picture of koala numbers and location …. by engaging the community in a once-a-year survey." It is hoped that the count will be repeated annually.
The Great Koala Count (GKC) is being run by the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) in partnership with the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative between November 7 and 17. Koalas can be counted at any time during this period.
This is a Citizen Science Project which relies on the efforts of community volunteers to search for koalas and record sightings using a free SmartPhone app (BioTag) which has been developed by the NPA. The app enables the volunteer to plot the koala's position, record its picture and answer questions about it and the tree it inhabits.
The data on the animal is automatically uploaded when the volunteer is within phone range.
Those who do not have SmartPhones can also participate by uploading their data directly to the NPA Citizen Science Data Portal on the internet.
Anyone wanting to participate will need to register on the Great Koala Count website . That includes those who will be using the SmartPhone app.
All the information collected in the GKC will be publicly accessible on the NPA's Citizen Science Data Portal and the Atlas of Living Australia.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON KOALAS:
Check the Australian Koala Foundation
and the Save the Koala facebook page